Friday, December 26, 2014


By Rosalinda Morgan


The annual Rose Parade and Rose Bowl football game is an all-American tradition on New Year’s Day.  Long before the radio was invented much less the TV in 1890, members of the Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club wanted to celebrate the mild winter weather in California where roses were still in bloom in January.  They were eager to tell the world about their paradise.  They were from the East and Midwest who moved to California and discovered the nice mild winter weather in Pasadena.  Dr. Charles Frederick Holder declared at a club meeting that “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.”

The first floral festival on New Year’s Day was attended by more than 2000 people and was patterned after the Battle of the Flowers held in Nice, France.  The festival included a modest procession of flower-covered carriages with afternoon games of foot races, tug-of-war contests, bicycle races, ostrich races, polo matches and other contest on the town lot.  There was even a race between a camel and an elephant.  The elephant won.  Eventually, the contest was replaced by the best of college football.  The town lot was then renamed Tournament Park in 1900.  The first football game was played in 1902 between Stanford University and the University of Michigan with Michigan winning 49-0.  Due to such defeat, the Association dropped football in favor of chariot races.

Then in 1916, football came back to stay.  In 1920, a new stadium was built which the local newspaper called the Rose Bowl.  On January 1, 1923, the Tournament held the first Rose Bowl game.  Today, the festival starts with a parade that includes matching bands, high-stepping equestrian units and spectacular animated floats covered with million flowers from all over the world.  Volunteers called petal pushers work hand in hand with professional designers to make this event a huge success.  This was followed by the Rose Bowl where the championship collegiate football teams of the Pac-12 and the Big Ten conference meet for the showdown of the Granddaddy of them all.

In the early years, few teams arrived in flower decorated carriages which gave Dr. Holder the idea to change the name of the festival to “Tournament of Roses”.  By 1895, the festival had gotten so big that it was difficult for the Valley Hunt Club to handle so the Tournament of Roses Association was formed.  Today the Tournament of Roses Association headquarters is housed at an Italian Renaissance-style house, thanks to the generosity of the famous chewing-gum manufacturer, William Wrigley Jr. whose favorite pastime was watching the parade.  The 18,500 square foot mansion designed by architect G. Lawrence Stimson with a 4-1/2 acres rose garden is located two blocks south of the starting point of the parade and was bequeathed to the city of Pasadena upon Mr. Wrigley’s death in 1958 with the stipulation that it be used as the Tournament’s permanent headquarters.

From the humble beginning, the 126th Rose Parade presented by Honda with the theme, “Inspiring Stories,” will start at 8:00 a.m. (PT) on Thursday, January 1, 2015. The Tournament of Roses has selected Els Hazenberg, Steven Wood Schmader and Eddie Zaratsian to be float judges for the 126th Rose Parade. The Rose Parade expects to be watched by millions on television in more than 100 countries plus a million of spectators along the parade routes.

The Rose Parade will be followed by the 101st Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at 1:30 pm PT (4:30 pm ET) between the No. 2 CFP-ranked Oregon Ducks, champions of the Pac-12 Conference, and the No. 3 CFP-ranked Florida State Seminoles, champions of the ACC Conference. The 101st Rose Bowl Game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Ducks and the Seminoles. The winner of the Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game will earn a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship, which will take place on January 12, 2015 in North Texas. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox calling the action.

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