First Parade and Games on January 1, 1890, a parade of flower-decorated horse-and-buggies and an afternoon of public games on the “town lot” east of Los Robles between Colorado and Santa Fe. The parade was to be an American version of the festival of roses in Nice, France.
First musical group to perform in the Rose Parade, The Monrovia Town Band in 1891.
First viewing stands are built along the parade route.
First year that motorized vehicles are allowed as float entries. At the time, there was little enthusiasm for the autos, which were forced to appear at the rear of the parade so as not to scare the horses.
First Rose Bowl Game played at Tournament Park (Caltech’s current athletic field). University of Michigan routs Stanford University, 49-0. As the crowd of spectators arrived for the game, it soon became apparent that the 1,000 seats would not be enough. The mob of 8,500 created a stampede. No one was seriously injured, but due to the over-excitement of the crowd, as well as the lopsided score, football was abandoned on New Year’s Day until 1916.
First chariot races staged, inspired in part by the best-selling book Ben-Hur. The chariot races, held at Tournament Park, continued until 1915, when it was decided that, while the event was indeed popular, it was far too dangerous and expensive.
First Rose Queen, Hallie Woods, reigns over New Year’s Day festivities. Miss Woods, chosen by her classmates at Pasadena High School, made her own gown and helped decorate the float upon which she rode.
First and only elephant-camel race held. With a little goading from its rider, the elephant won.
Edith Wright is the first woman to pilot a float – Eagle Rock’s entry.
Hotels from Yokohama and Manila enter massive floral floats, marking the first international entries.
Czechoslovakia is the first international government to enter the parade.
First national radio broadcast of Rose Bowl Game.
Pasadena Junior College, now Pasadena City College, makes first appearance in parade as official Tournament Band.
Mary Pickford becomes the first Hollywood celebrity and first woman to be chosen Grand Marshal.
The Goodyear Blimp became the first aerial platform to provide a live television picture of a nationally televised program when it broadcast Rose Parade on January 1.
Rose Bowl Game becomes first college football game broadcast nationally in color.
First live international satellite feed of Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game to other parts of the world.
Navajo Nation Band, of Window Rock, Arizona, is the first Native-American marching band to participate in the parade.
First African-American Rose Queen, Kristina Smith, chosen to reign on New Year’s Day.
First live network broadcast of the Rose Bowl Game in Spanish.
First live broadcast of the Rose Parade to luxury cruise ships.
First live radio broadcast of the Rose Parade from atop a moving float by radio personalities Ken and Bob of KABC-AM (Los Angeles).
The Rose Parade and edited clips of the Rose Bowl Game are broadcast via satellite to Russia and the newly formed Independent Republics for the first time.
First quadruple Grand Marshals in Rose Parade history. Actress/diplomat Shirley Temple Black, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, sports legend Jackie Robinson (posthumously) and film producer/documentarian David L. Wolper chosen to collectively represent the 20th century.
For the first time, the Tournament of Roses names a Grand Marshal posthumously. At the suggestion of Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, his lifelong friend Ray Bartlett fulfills his duties as Grand Marshal.
Roy E. Disney (Walt Disney’s nephew) leads the 111th Tournament of Roses as the 2000 Grand Marshal, making him and Walt the first and only Grand Marshals in Tournament history who are in the same family.
For the first time in Tournament of Roses history, the parade is intentionally stopped. The United States Army Golden Knights Paratroopers land on the parade route in front of the VFW float saluting Bob Hope. In an emotional moment which captured the patriotic theme of the Parade, Fabric of America, the paratroopers salute the Bob Hope float, and Mr. Hope – a two-time Rose Parade Grand Marshal – salutes back.
For the first time in history, the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game are held on different days as The Granddaddy of Them All hosts the National Championship Rose Bowl Game on January 3, 2002.