Tournament of Roses Parade
Pasadena is home to the Tournament of Roses Parade, held each year on January 1 (or on January 2, if the 1st falls on a Sunday). The first parade was held in 1890 and was originally sponsored by the Valley Hunt Club, a Pasadena social club. The motivation for having the parade was, as member Professor Charles F. Holder said, “In New York, people are buried in 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.”
By 1895, the festivities had outgrown the Valley Hunt Club, and the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the parade. The Rose Parade, as it is familiarly known, traditionally features elaborate floats, bands and equestrian units. According to the organizers, “Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers, or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds, or bark. On average a float requires about 100,000 flowers and greenery. Volunteer workers swarm over the floats in the days after Christmas, their hands and clothes covered with glue and petals.” The most perishable flowers are placed in small vials of water, which are placed onto the float individually. Over the almost 3 hours of the parade, floats, and participants travel over five miles (8 km) and pass by over one million viewers who traditionally camp out over New Year’s Eve to have the best view along the parade route.
The Rose Parade is satirized by the popular Doo Dah Parade, an annual event that originated in Old Pasadena in 1978, and soon gained national notoriety. Readers Digest named the Doo Dah Parade “America’s Best Parade”, and was a recent feature in 50 Places You Must Visit Before You Die!. It was formerly held around Thanksgiving, a month before the Rose Parade, but the parade is now held in May. In 2011, after 33 years in Pasadena, the parade moved to East Pasadena for the first time. It features unusual and absurd entrants such as the BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team, the Men of Leisure, and the Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin. Proceeds from the parade’s pancake breakfast, T-shirts, and after-party are donated to charity.