During a meeting in the late 1880s of the Valley Hunt Club — a group which included members from the East Coast and the Midwest — Professor Charles F. Holder announced, “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.”
In those early years, the parade featured wagons and buggies covered in colorful flowers. Today, the parade features elaborate mechanized floats and is viewed by an estimated 1 billion people in 100 countries, not including the hundreds of thousands of people who come to Pasadena each year to see the event live.
This year, the 128th Rose Parade Presented by Honda will include 21 marching bands, 40 floats and 19 equestrian acts that will travel a nearly five-mile route mostly along Colorado Boulevard, beginning at 8 a.m. on Jan. 2.
The parade is being held on Monday, Jan. 2 this year due to the Tournament of Roses’ “Never on Sunday” policy dating back to 1893, when horses pulled carriages decorated in flowers. The policy was enacted so as not to disturb church services by scaring horses tethered to hitching posts at local churches on or near Colorado Boulevard.
Horses remain an integral part of the parade, with this year’s event featuring the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales and teams from the Marine Corps, the California Highway Patrol, Wells Fargo Bank and the Valley Hunt Club. Skilled riders, eye-catching costumes and handcrafted tack add to the event’s appeal year after year.
Also this year, the National Hockey League, Netflix and “The Bachelor” TV show will have floats in the parade, along with those representing Alhambra, Los Angeles and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Among the 21 marching bands are those from Arcadia High School and the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band.
The parade will also feature two international bands: The Gifusho Green Band of Gifu, Japan, and the Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Industrial No. 3 of Buhos Marching Band from Veracruz, Mexico.
The theme of this year’s parade is “Echoes of Success.”
“Echoes of Success celebrates those people, organizations and institutions that play a part in the stories of the success of others,” said Tournament President Brad Ratliff. “Success cannot be achieved alone. It takes the support, dedication, compassion and love of many others to help in finding that satisfaction of success. Family, friends and teachers contribute selflessly and tirelessly to the success of many. These influences in our lives, these people of selfless commitment, these Echoes of Success make us who we are.”
According to the 10-day weather forecast, skies should be cloudy Monday and temperatures are expected to be in the high 50s. This is particularly important news to those who camp on the streets overnight to see the parade. It has not rained on the parade since 2006, when former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor served as grand marshal.
This year, Janet Evans, Allyson Felix and Greg Louganis are serving as co-grand marshals. The three Olympic legends and Southern California natives sit on the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee working to bring the games back to the City of Angels in 2024.
“On behalf of LA 2024, we’re thrilled that three of Southern California’s greatest Olympians will lead the world-famous Rose Parade and share our city’s Olympic passion with viewers across the globe,” said LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman. “Every New Year, the Tournament of Roses celebrates Southern California’s innovation, creativity and excitement for the future; and LA 2024 will harness this optimistic Angeleno spirit to invite the world to ‘Follow the Sun’ to the City of Angels for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”