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Encyclopedia > Tournament of Roses
There is also the Roses Tournament in England

Perhaps one of the United States of America's most important annual festivities, The Tournament of Roses Parade is the 114-year-old traditional parade generally held on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California. The only exception is when New Year's Day falls on a Sunday, which is both a non-working day and to many people a day reserved for religious observance, so in this instance, the 2006 Rose Parade will be held on a Monday, January 2nd.

Rooted in tradition, this parade is broadcast on the big-three networks, watched by upwards of one million spectators on the parade route, and seen by hundreds of millions more on television. It is traditionally followed by the Tournament's other event, the Rose Bowl college football game.



First staged in 1890 by members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club, the Tournament of Roses has quite evidently undergone major change.

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 home's 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 decided to organize their first New Year's Day parade. 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 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. 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.


The Tournament of Roses Parade has followed the same route for many decades. It starts by going north on South Orange Grove Boulevard, beginning at Ellis Street. It proceeds east on Colorado Boulevard to Sierra Madre Boulevard. Turning north on Sierra Madre, it ends at Paloma Street. In total, this route is 5 miles long.


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.

List of Tournament of Roses Parade Themes

Tournament of Roses Past Themes (http://tournamentofroses.com/history/themes.htm)

  • 1918 Patriotism
  • 1919 Victory Tournament
  • 1920-1926 No Themes
  • 1927 Songs in Flowers
  • 1928 States & Nations in Flowers
  • 1929 Poems in Flowers
  • 1930 Festival Days in Flowers
  • 1931 Dreams in Flowers
  • 1932 Nations & Games in Flowers
  • 1933 Fairy Tales in Flowers
  • 1934 Tales of the Seven Seas
  • 1935 Golden Legends
  • 1936 History in Flowers
  • 1937 Romance in Flowers
  • 1938 Playland Fantasies
  • 1939 Golden Memories
  • 1940 20th Century in Flowers
  • 1941 America in Flowers
  • 1942 The Americas
  • 1943 We're in to Win
  • 1944 Memories of the Past
  • 1945 Hold a Victory so Hardly Won
  • 1946 Victory, Unity and Peace
  • 1947 Holidays in Flowers
  • 1948 Our Golden West
  • 1949 Childhood Memories
  • 1950 Our American Heritage
  • 1951 Joyful Living
  • 1952 Dreams of the Future
  • 1953 Melodies in Flowers
  • 1954 Famous Books in Flowers
  • 1955 Familiar Sayings in Flowers
  • 1956 Pages From the Ages
  • 1957 Famous Firsts in Flowers
  • 1958 Daydreams in Flowers
  • 1959 Adventures in Flowers
  • 1960 Tall Tales and True
  • 1961 Ballads in Blossom
  • 1962 Around the World in Flowers
  • 1963 Memorable Moments
  • 1964 Symbols of Freedom
  • 1965 Headlines in Flowers
  • 1966 It's a Small World
  • 1967 Travel Tales in Flowers
  • 1968 Wonderful World of Adventure
  • 1969 A Time to Remember
  • 1970 Holidays Around the World
  • 1971 Through the Eyes of a Child
  • 1972 The Joy of Music
  • 1973 Movie Memories
  • 1974 Happiness Is ...
  • 1975 Heritage of America
  • 1976 America, Let's Celebrate!
  • 1977 The Good Life
  • 1978 On the Road to Happiness
  • 1979 Our Wonderful World of Sports
  • 1980 Music of America
  • 1981 The Great Outdoors
  • 1982 Friends and Neighbors
  • 1983 Rejoice!
  • 1984 A Salute to the Volunteer
  • 1985 The Spirit of America
  • 1986 A Celebration of Laughter
  • 1987 A World of Wonders
  • 1988 Thanks to Communications
  • 1989 Celebration 100
  • 1990 A World of Harmony
  • 1991 Fun 'n' Games
  • 1992 Voyages of Discovery
  • 1993 Entertainment on Parade
  • 1994 Fantastic Adventure
  • 1995 SPORTS-Quest for Excellence
  • 1996 Kids' Laughter & Dreams
  • 1997 Life's Shining Moments
  • 1998 Hav'n Fun
  • 1999 Echoes of the Century
  • 2000 Celebration 2000: Visions of the Future
  • 2001 Fabric of America
  • 2002 Good Times
  • 2003 Children's Dreams, Wishes and Imagination
  • 2004- Music Music Music
  • 2005- Celebrate Family

Grand Marshal

List of Past Grand Marshals of the Tournament of Roses Parade

Repeat Marshals of the Tournament of Rose 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
  • Bob Hope, 1947, 1969

Queen and Royal Court

Each year, a pageant is held to find out which Pasadena-area girls have the honor of being crowned Queen of the Tournament, or in substitution, one of the members of her "Royal Court". 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.


Originally, floats were created solely by volunteers from sponsoring communities. Currently, most are built by professional float building companies, and take nearly a year to construct. This is not the be-all-and-end-all of the Tournament, as some communities and organizational sponsors still rely on volunteers. Being one of the world's most noted parades, all floats and bands are honored with individual lapel pins. [1] (http://sites.securemgr.com/folder59/index.cfm?fuseaction=browse&id=11574&pageid=33)

Modern-Day Process

Shortly after each year's parade is over, the parade sponsors and participating communities start to plan their floats for the following year. Characters and other objects on the float are created separately as pods, consisting of a framework of steel and chicken wire.

The pod is then "cocooned" in the next process; it is sprayed with a polyvinyl material. This pod is painted with the colors of the flowers to be applied to the float.

Every square inch of the exposed surface of a float entered in the Rose Parade strictly must be covered with flowers or other natural materials. These other decorative applicants include bark, seed and leaves.

The float pods are then put on the mechanical chassis of the float. Along with drive train, the chassis regularly include computer-controlled robotic mechanisms, to animate the floats.

In the days following Christmas, these natural additions to the float are applied by volunteers. Many volunteers end each day covered in glue and petals. Delicate flowers are even set up in individual vials of water, set into the float one-by-one.

Quantity of Flowers

While many distinct changes have taken place with the Festival's floats, including computer-aided movement and professional float building, the floats have kept true to the event's title and heritage, by using real, fresh flowers.

The sheer amount of flowers required by a single float in its decoration is more than the average American florist will use in five years of operation.


Notable Recent Floats

  • working roller coasters
  • a 50-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty
  • a robotic chef with moving arms
  • a complete tropical paradise, filled with animals
  • a working water slide


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.

  • 1980- 2,000
  • 2002- 800,000 (1,000,000; drop blamed on 9/11)
  • 2004- (1,000,000)

Post-Parade: A Showcase of Floats

This section is being worked on by Zanimum. Please kindly leave a reminder on his talk page.

Tournament of Roses Association

List of Presidents of the Tournament of Roses Association

  • 2002-2003- Gary Thomas
  • 2003-2004- Michael K. Riffey
  • 2011-2012- Jeff Throop, Tournament volunteer since 1974, elected to


The Tournament of Roses has become such a large event that it requires 65,000 hours of combined manpower each year, or the equivalent of roughly 7.42 years of combined man power. Fortunately for the Association, the group has 935 members, 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, all volunteers are required to wear distinct white suits. Because of this, the volunteers are commonly referred to as "white suiters".

External links

  • Tournament of Roses Parade (http://tournamentofroses.com/current/parade.htm), official site

  Results from FactBites:
Tournament of Roses Parade - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1999 words)
The Tournament of Roses Parade was established in 1890 and is held on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California, eight miles (13 km) north-east of downtown Los Angeles-except if January 1 falls on a Sunday, in which case the parade occurs on January 2.
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.
By the eleventh annual Tournament (1900), the town lot on which the activities were held was re-named Tournament Park, a large open area that is directly adjacent Pasadena's world-famous institution of higher learning, CalTech.
Tournament of Roses Parade - definition of Tournament of Roses Parade in Encyclopedia (1069 words)
Perhaps one of the United States of America's most important annual festivities, The Tournament of Roses Parade is the 114-year-old traditional parade held on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California.
Rooted in tradition, this parade is broadcast on the big-three networks, watched by upwards of one million spectators on the parade route, and seen by hundreds of millions more on television.
By the eleventh annual Tournament (1900), the town lot on which the activities were held was re-named Tournament Park.
  More results at FactBites »



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