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Soldier surprises family with a Rose Parade homecoming

An Army sergeant deployed in Afghanistan gave his wife and son a memorable start to the new year when he surprised them both at the 2013 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., where he stepped off a float.

Army Sgt. First Class Eric Pazz was riding the “Canines with Courage” float honoring military service dogs when he sprung the surprise on his wife, Miriam, who thought she was attending the parade as a contest winner.

The family received a standing ovation from the crowd when Pazz handed his wife a rose and swept up their 4-year-old son in his arms. They waved to the cheering spectators before riding the remainder of the parade route together atop of the float.

Natural Balance Pet Foods, which sponsored the float, secretly flew Pazz to the parade after coordinating the surprise with the military. The family lives in Germany, but Pazz is currently deployed in Afghanistan. A recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, Pazz also has served in Iraq.

Pazz, 32, told NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate it had been months since he had seen his son.

“He looked up at me and said, ‘Daddy, is it March already? Is that why you’re home?’” he said. “To be honest, I was choking back tears the whole time.”

Miriam Pazz told the Huffington Post the experience was “overwhelming. It’s too hard to describe.”

The couple have been married for eight years.

Another couple received cheers from the crowd as they began their first year of matrimony. A pair of reconnected high school sweethearts tied the knot on top of “The Love Float” sponsored by Farmers Insurance.

Gerald Sapienza and Nicole Angelillo won a parade wedding in a nationwide contest. Among other things, the Chesapeake, Va., couple received a trip to Pasadena, a wedding gown, tuxedo, rings and Rose Bowl game tickets.

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