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The Tournament of Roses Parade

For more than 125 years, the city of Pasadena, California has hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Known to most people as the Rose Parade, the Tournament of Roses Parade is an American tradition that was started back in 1890 when city leaders decided to showcase the warm weather of Pasadena and Southern California while much of the nation was enduring harsh winter cold.

Since then, The Tournament of Roses, which includes the parade and the Rose Bowl game, has grown into a yearly event that attracts tourists from around the world and is broadcast to over 200 countries.

The parade route covers a distance of over five and one-half miles. It begins near the Tournament House on Orange Grove Boulevard.

  • The Tournament House, formerly the mansion of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., is the headquarters of the Tournament of Roses Association.

The parade participants, floats, bands, equestrian units, etc., assemble at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard, known as the formation area. When the parade begins, it travels north on Orange Grove Boulevard, turns east on Colorado Boulevard, turns north on Sierra Madre Boulevard, and ends at Villa Street.

To get a good spot to watch the parade, many people camp out over night along the parade route. They feel that it is well worth it to get a close up view of the floats and festivities.

It is estimated that a million or more people crowd the sidewalks, cafes, restaurants, businesses, and rooftops along the parade route to see the beautifully decorated floats, the Rose Queen and her court, the marching bands, the grand marshall, celebrities, politicians, horses, and other interesting facets that make the Rose Parade one of the most watched events in the world.

The planning for each parade takes at least a year or more. When you see the parade, there are already plans under way for the next year. Each float takes at least a year to build. Flowers and plants are planted, grown, harvested, and then painstakingly glued to the floats. Legions of volunteers work long hours to make each float a work of art.

In September, the process begins to select a Rose Queen and her court. The contestants, who range in age from 17 to 21, are chosen from the Pasadena area. Approximately 1000 young ladies try out each year but only one queen and six princesses are selected.

The queen and her royal court rides on a float in the parade and are given duties to perform in the city of Pasadena and at other venues and events around the country. They are given wardrobes, scholarships, travel expenses, and other benefits.

One of the most prestigious positions during the Tournament of Roses is the position of Grand Marshall. The Grand Marshall rides in the parade and tosses the coin for the Rose Bowl game. Over the years, the Grand Marshall has included politicians, business men and women, movie stars, television personalities, athletes, astronauts, and other well known individuals.

Marching bands make up a large part of the Tournament of Roses Parade. High school and college bands are selected from around the country and bands from other countries are encouraged to compete for a slot. Military bands are also chosen to perform. Bands are selected for their playing skills, marching abilities, and their overall entertainment value.

The Rose Parade has become a New Years Day staple for millions of parade attendees and television viewers who marvel at the colorful flower covered floats, the marching bands, the commentary, and all the festivities associated with the Tournament of Roses Parade.


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