Tournament of Roses Parade

Tournament of Roses Parade

The Tournament of Roses Parade was established, and first held, on January 1, 1890, in Pasadena, California, eight miles (13 km) northeast of Downtown Los Angeles.

Starting January 1, 1923, it is traditionally followed by the Tournament's other event, the Rose Bowl college football game. This parade is broadcast on multiple television networks, watched by upwards of one million spectators on the parade route, and seen by millions more on television.

The parade is televised on ABC (as the official network of the tournament and the Rose Bowl game itself), but coverage in California is also available on NBC, Univision (in Spanish), HGTV, The Travel Channel, and KTLA (the latter three tout commercial-free coverage, although KTLA repeats the parade throughout the day with commercials). Until 2007, the parade was also broadcast on CBS. KTTV also televised the parade for many years until 1995.


Members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club first staged the parade in 1890. Since then the Parade has been held in Pasadena every New Year's Day, except when January 1 falls on a Sunday. In that case, the Tournament is held on the subsequent Monday, January 2. This exception was instituted in 1893. According to the Tournament of Roses Association Web site, this "Never on Sunday" policy was instituted in order "to avoid frightening horses tethered outside local churches and thus interfering with worship services." Thus, the Parade has never been held on a Sunday. Incidentally, the Rose Bowl Game is also not held on Sunday, to avoid competing with the NFL. Other bowl games usually held on January 1 also follow this rule.

Many of the members of the Valley Hunt Club were former residents of the American East and Midwest. They wished to showcase their new California homes' mild winter weather. At a club meeting, Professor Charles F. Holder announced, "In New York, people are buried in the snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

And so the Club organized Horse-drawn carriages covered in flowers, followed by foot races, polo matches, and a game of tug-of-war on the town lot attracted a crowd of 2000 to the event. Upon seeing the scores of flowers on display, the Professor decided to suggest the name "Tournament of Roses."

Over the next few founding years, marching bands and motorized floats were added. By 1895, the event was too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle, hence the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association was formed. By the eleventh annual Tournament (1900), the town lot on which the activities were held was re-named Tournament Park, a large open area directly adjacent to Pasadena's world-famous institution of higher learning, Caltech. Activities soon included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations, and an odd novelty race between a camel and an elephant. (The elephant won the race.) Soon, reviewing stands were built along the parade route, and newspapers in Eastern Seaboard cities started to take notice of the event.

Tournament House is the name given the building where the organization is headquartered. The Tournament House, a stately Italian Renaissance-style mansion, was once owned by William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum magnate. [ [ Tournament House ] ]

In 2002 and 2006, when the Rose Bowl Game was the BCS National Championship Game, the "Granddaddy of 'em all" was not held the same day as the parade; the 2006 game was played on January 4. Not all fans were pleased with the change; some thought the atmosphere and tradition of the Rose Bowl were lost. However, since the BCS title game is now separate from the host bowl, it will no longer affect the date of the Rose Bowl Game, even when the title game returns to Pasadena in 2010.


The Tournament of Roses Parade has followed the same route for many decades. The day before the Parade, the entire environs of the neighborhood streets are sealed off and reserved for the massive parade marshalling of the dozens of floats and other elements. The marshalling area is referred to as the Formation Area and managed by the Formation Area Committee. On parade morning, the parade elements are merged and dispatched. It starts by going north on South Orange Grove Boulevard, beginning at Ellis Street. At Colorado Boulevard it passes the main Television and Media stands and proceeds east. (Colorado Boulevard is Pasadena's main thoroughfare and a segment of the former US 66). The Parade turns north on Sierra Madre Boulevard. On going North, the floats must travel under the Sierra Madre Boulevard./ I-210 freeway overpass, requiring over height floats to collapse to prevent crashing into the overpass. The Parade ends at the Post Parade Area when it crosses Paloma Street.

In total, this route is 5½ miles (9 km) long; the assembled bands, horse units, and floats take approximately 2.5 hours to pass by. After the Parade an exhibition of the floats is conducted.


Originally flower decorated horse carriages were entered in the parade. Floats, built by volunteers from sponsoring communities, supplanted most of the carriages over time. Currently, most are built by professional float building companies, and take nearly a year to construct. Some communities and organizational sponsors still rely on volunteers. The Valley Hunt Club still enters a flower decorated carriage.

Typically 48 to 72 hours prior to parade day one can view several of the floats being decorated with flowery mantles, in the various 'float barns' that dot the Arroyo Seco / Rose Bowl area in West Pasadena, not far from the start of the parade. It is a rule of the parade that all surfaces of the float framework be covered in natural flowers or greenery; furthermore, no artificial flowers or greenery are allowed. Last-minute volunteering opportunities are usually available.

After the parade, all the floats are 'parked' at the end of the parade route on Sierra Madre Blvd. and Washington Blvd., by Victory Park, and are on display for at least one and half days after the parade. None of the float riders and dignitaries / stars who rode on them are present. Admittance to the viewing used to be free, but a fee has been instituted in recent years.


Since the beginning, horses have played a part in the Rose Parade. Thousands of riders have made the trek down Colorado Boulevard. "The Tournament equestrian family grows bigger and stronger every year as it welcomes the new equestrians who come to share the magic of New Year's day and appreciate the commitment to excellence and professionalism exhibited by the returning equestrian units to the parade," according to the Tournament of Roses.

Prior to the parade, an "Equestfest" is held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center to showcase the performances by the amazing and talented riding teams. Equestrian units taking part in "Equestfest" have included First Cavalry Division U.S. Army Fort Hood, Clydesdales, "Traveler"-USC mascot, Sons and Daughters of the Reel West and the California State Fire Fighters Association. Bob Eubanks and Shawn Parr have served as announcers at "Equestfest".


Top marching bands from all over the world are invited. Many of the nations top high school marching bands, along with college and organizational marching bands participate.

The bands participating in the parade have also developed traditions. For example, Pasadena City College's Lancer Marching Band always marches in the Rose Parade, along with high school band and color guard students from all over Southern California, who are selected by audition the previous autumn. The Tournament of Roses Honor Band is a coveted position, and those selected are among the best student musicians in California. Nine of the high school trumpet players, selected by performance on their auditions, and the best snare drummer, are selected as the Herald Trumpets, who march directly before the Rose Queen's float and play fanfares.

thumb|Nuestros Angeles de El Salvador dancers from San Salvador, El SalvadorThe dancers followed the marching band [">] University Marching bands from the two schools participating in the Rose Bowl are invited to march in the parade. They typically accompany the float that represents the school.

Bands that have a long standing arrangement to be in the parade include:

*The Tournament of Roses Honor Band
*The Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band
*The Salvation Army marching band
*The United States Marine Corps marching band

In 1998, the Washington Township High School Minutemen Marching Band from Sewell, New Jersey became the first band in the history of the Rose Parade to decorate its entire ranks with live flowers, in keeping with the practice of decorating the parade floats. Designed by Todd Marcocci, this unique concept and design approach received tremendous support from all major media around the world. Since then, several bands have followed suit.Fact|date=May 2008

Also, the Tournament sponsors BandFest, where the selected bands perform field shows at the City College Stadium over two days.

In 2008, the Missouri State University band performed in the opening show, immediately followed by the Needham B. Broughton High School Band from Raleigh, NC. The Alexis I. duPont High School Tiger Marching Band from Wilmington, Delaware made their 5th appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade, only accomplished by three high school bands from outside of the state of California. Also in 2008, the Arcadia High School marching band made their 14th appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade.Fact|date=May 2008

Tournament of Roses Parade themes

The newly elected President of the Tournament of Roses has the duty of picking a theme for the forthcoming festivities. Most of the floral floats in the parade are inspired by this theme.

On January 18, 2008, Ronald H. Conzonire (Corky) was confirmed as President of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. He chose "Hats Off to Entertainment" as the theme for the 2009 120th Rose Parade and 95th Rose Bowl Game.

Grand Marshal

The Grand Marshal of the Parade is an honorary position selected by the President of the Tournament. Many are picked for a relationship to the theme that is also picked by the President. On Friday, October 10, 2008, at Tournament House, President Ronald (Corky) H. Conzonire announced that actress Cloris Leachman as the 2009 Grand Marshal, only the 10th female grand marshal in the history of the parade.:Repeat Marshals of the Tournament of Roses Parade
* Shirley Temple, 1939, 1989, 1999
* Charles Daggett, 1900, 1901, 1914
* Dwight D. Eisenhower 1951, 1964 (note that Cpl. Robert S. Gray filled in for him in 1951)
* Bob Hope, 1947, 1969
* Richard M. Nixon, 1953, 1960
* C. C. Reynolds, 1902, 1903
* Dr. Francis F. Rowland, 1890, 1892, 1894, 1904, 1905, 1910, 1916
* Dr. Ralph Skillen, 1907, 1908, 1911
* Edwin Stearns, 1896, 1897
* Martin H. Weight, 1898, 1899
* Earl Warren, 1943, 1955

Queen and Royal Court

Each year, a selection process is held in late September and early October to find out which Pasadena-area girls (ages 17 to 21) will have the honor of being crowned Queen of the Tournament, or in substitution, one of the members of her "Royal Court". Each year over 1000 girls try out. Six princesses and one queen are chosen. The winners then ride on a float in the parade, and carry out duties in promotion of the Tournament, mainly during its duration and prelude. Their duties include attending over one hundred events in the Pasadena area. They usually receive scholarship money and a 30 piece wardrobe; the 2005 Court also received a Mikimoto pearl necklace. During the time that they attend Tournament events, usually from October to January, each girl usually attends school a few times a week for only a few hours at a time. Future One Tree Hill actress Sophia Bush was Queen in 2000.


More recent attendance figure are followed by the predicted attendances in parenthesis. Most predictions are conducted by The Tournament of Roses and the Pasadena Police Department. Actual figures are by the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.The Los Angeles Times ran a study in 1980 that said the actual attendance at the parade was actually about 60% of what is claimed each year.

* 1890- 2,000
* 2002- 800,000 (1,000,000; drop blamed on 9/11)
* 2004- (1,000,000)



Each year, the newly elected president will select a new theme in January and choose a grand marshal during the year. With the announcement of the theme, the preparation and construction of the floral floats begin, along with the selection of marching bands and equestrian units. In 2005, Libby Evans Wright was elected as the first female president of the Tournament.

Operations and the parade

The Tournament of Roses has become such a large event that it requires 80,000 hours of combined manpower each year, or the equivalent of roughly 7.42 years of combined manpower. Fortunately for the Association, the group has 935 members and 38 student ambassadors, each whom is assigned to one of 34 committees. Responsibilities include:
* selecting Parade participants
* directing visitors on New Year's Day
* serving hamburgers to band members at the end of the Parade route
* giving presentations about the Tournament to community groups

During the Parade, tournament members are required to wear distinct white suits, with red ties, name tags, membership pins and official ribbons. Because of this, the volunteers are commonly referred to as "white suiters." In December each year, a fleet of white vehicles with special "ToR" license plates are seen throughout the San Gabriel Valley. These cars are currently donated by American Honda for use in conducting the official business of the parade.Each year, an honor troop of Eagle Scouts from the San Gabriel Valley Council, and Gold Award recipients of the Mount Wilson Vista Council Girl Scouts is selected to carry the parade banners down the route.

The "Tournament of Roses Radio Amateurs" (TORRA) have provided audio and video co-ordination for the parade officials through the use of Amateur radio since 1968. With over 300 ham radio operators in TORRA there were several ham radio sites along the parade route equipped with amateur (ham) TV as well as 2-way ham radios. Several mobile units - including motorcycles and pedestrian units (creepie-peepies) provided the video coverage. With modern technology and cell phone service, the TORRA relationship with the Tournament of Roses Association has since ended.

Thousands more volunteers help cover the floats in those beautiful flower and seed mixes during "Deco week," Dec 26- parade day. Many of these come back year after year, some even camp nearby to help all week long.


From 1955 to 2005, the parade avoided being rained on with several close calls. For the 2006 Tournament of Roses parade on January 2, winds with gusts up to 45 mph (72 km/h) and five inches (130 mm) of rain in the Pasadena area were predicted. Unfortunately, the forecast proved accurate; despite the parade's good luck for 51 years, it rained continuously and heavily throughout the entire 2006 parade. As a result, low television ratings and poor attendance plagued the ceremony. Some floats showed signs of water damage by the end.

ee also

*Portland Rose Festival
*Doo Dah Parade
*Rose Bowl (game)
*Rose Bowl (stadium)


External links

* [ Tournament of Roses Parade official site]

Float construction companies

* [ Phoenix Decorating Co.]
* [ Festival Artists Worldwide]
* [ Fiesta Parade Floats]
* [ Charisma Floats]
* [ Studio Concepts]

elf-Built float organizations

* [ Burbank Tournament of Roses Association]
* [ Downey Rose Float Association]
* [ La Canada Flintridge Rose Float Association]
* [ Sierra Madre Rose Float Association]
* [ South Pasadena Rose Float Association]
* [ Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float]
* [ Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Rose Float]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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