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Tournament of Roses Parade

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 New Year's Day in Pasadena, California. Rooted in tradition, this parade is carried on the big-three networks and watched by one million on the parade route, and millions more on television. It has become a lead in to the Rose Bowl football game.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Parade Route
3 Tournament of Roses Association
4 Volunteers


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 Californian 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 decided to organize their first New Year's Day parade. Horse-drawn carriage 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 Assoication was formed. By the eleventh annual Tournament (1900), the town lot on which the activities were held was re-named Tournment 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 on/along the eastern seaboard started to take notice of the event.

Parade Route

The Tournament of Roses Parade has followed the same route for many decades now. It starts out 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.


List of Tournament of Roses Parade Themes

2004- Music Music Music

Grand Marshall

List of Past Grand Marshalls of the Tournament of Roses Parade

Repeat Marshalls of the Tournament of Rose Parade

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. Nowadays, 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, some communities still rely on volunteers.

Modern-Day Process

Shortly after the previous year's parade is over, the parade sponsors and participating communities start to plan their floats. Then a chassis is built; it's a framework of steel and chicken wire.

The chassis is then "cocooned" in the cocooning process; it is sprayed with a polyvinyl material. This cocoon 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.

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

Underneath many of the modern floats are computer-controlled robotic action, to animate the floats.

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 consumed by a single float in its decoration is actually more than the average American florist will use in five years of operation.

Notable Recent Floats


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

Post-Parade: A Showcase of Floats

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Tournament of Roses Association

List of Presidents of the Tournament of Roses Association


The Tournament of Roses has become such a large event that it requires 65,000 hours of combined manpower each year. That is the equivalent of roughly 7.42 years of combined man power. Luckily for the Association, the group has 935 members, each whom is put in one of 34 committees.

Responsibilities include: