The Pasadena Tournament of Roses
  A New Year’s Day Tradition

Pasadena Tournament of Roses logo

When I was growing up, I lived in and around Pasadena (outside of Los Angeles in California). Every New Year's morning, everyone there either attends the Rose Parade or watches it on TV. Many camp out overnight on the parade route, saving their spot for the next day. Some set up ladders with boards in between creating a scaffolding to see over the heads of the spectators in front, as the entire five mile route is very crowded. Others set up camp chairs on the roofs of their RVs. Some people buy expensive tickets for seats in the crowded stands that line the first blocks of Colorado Blvd., where the TV stations also have their cameras and commentators.

rose parade float giant robot honda

The floats of the Rose Parade are rather famous. You may know that one of their requirements is to be completely covered by plant materials. If you've watched the parade, you've heard the TV personalities telling the world about not only the flowers, but the exotic seeds, leaves, and other plant parts that cover the floats.

building a rose parade float

They are beautiful, and though I haven't done much more than glue on a few Hawaiian tea leaves myself on a Rose Parade float, I can tell you that a lot of planning and work goes into them.

LA museum rose parade float before the foliage

You may find this article about the mechanics of the LA Natural History Museum float for 2012 interesting.

But what the TV crews are waaaay negligent about are the marching bands! Oh, they give a little head nod to their fund raising efforts and how far they have traveled to be there, but the cameras pan over them briefly (if they didn't go to a commercial) and it's on to the next float or equestrian group. There are a whole slew of teenagers who have put in countless (non-texting or electronics using I might add) hours that are in step and not complaining about blisters (it is a long parade). There is little glamour, if any, for these kids. But any teen who when yelled "About Face!" at answers "One! Two!" and obeys immediately and without question, deserves some recognition.

Arcadia Marching Band in parade

My niece is marching in the parade this year, and I want to see her on TV! Their band won't have traveled far--she's in the same marching band that I was in when I myself was in the Rose Parade (twice even--boy was I glad I played the piccolo). I knew when I was in the Arcadia Apache Marching Band, that it was an awesome organization. But now as an adult, I am in even greater awe of the program that our director, Tom Landes, and his assistant, Tom Forbes, led. This year Tom Landes is retiring, and I am realizing how many years he dedicated to the band and how many students he influenced positively. What tremendous good a teacher can do by building students first, and programs second.

When I take my kids back to my home town, we often drive down Colorado Blvd., and I can't resist pointing out the pink line down the middle of the road. A line that is a guide to those float drivers that are hidden under the flora. But also the line that the center guide of a marching band rank walks down for five miles in dress shoes. Most years a float breaks down and needs to be towed, but the marching bands walk all the way. And besides them their directors. And not to be forgotten, the water-bottle toting parents.

Another thing I love about the Rose Parade, or the Tournament of Roses, is that even though it is a New Year's Day parade, it is never on Sunday. Whenever January 1st is on a Sunday, the parade is on January 2nd. In this day and age where the concept of "Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy" is largely forgotten, I appreciate (especially since I'm a Sabbath day fanatic and was in the band), this observance of the 4th commandment.

So this January 2nd at 8:00am Pacific Standard Time, you know where I will be. Since I'm not in California to see the parade live, I will be with my family in our p.j.s, watching the parade on TV (it's on at least one network station), and keeping my eyes peeled for the Arcadia Marching Band, that rank of french horns my niece is in, and Mr. Tom Landes as he walks beside the band in the Rose Parade for the last time. Maybe those TV personalities will mention him . . .

Oh, and there's a football game afterwards.

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About Sunny

My name is Sunny, and my husband and I have five "children" ages 19 to 4. I love learning. I have a M.F.A. in Humanities and dream about going back to school some day. I run around doing "mom" stuff, try to put a nutritious dinner on the table for whomever shows up, and I thrive on creative projects when possible. Mostly I strive to just keep up with the mountains and mole hills of day to day life.
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