From Rose Queen Ana: A Royal Visit to the Macon Cherry Blossom Festival

Last month, I had the unique opportunity to attend the 2014 International Macon Cherry Blossom Festival as “Visiting Royalty” on behalf of the Tournament of Roses. I was unsure as to what I should expect on my first out-of-state trip as the Rose Queen, but I could have never guessed what memorable experiences I would bring home.

From touring and dining in some of Georgia’s most historic and beautiful homes, to making life-long friendships with fellow Queens from around the country, I had the most amazing time learning about the history of the Cherry Blossom Festival and participating in its customs.

I even had the great pleasure of meeting Ms. Carolyn Crayton, founder of the International Macon Cherry Blossom Festival, who, along with all of the wonderful residents of Macon I encountered, was so hospitable and kind. These moments will never be forgotten, and I hope to visit the “Pinkest Party on Earth” and all of my new friends in Macon once again in the future!

-Queen Ana

2014 Cherry Blossom Festival

Through its reciprocal relationship with 10 national and international festivals, the Tournament of Roses sends delegates across the country to participate in and observe festival and parade operations to continually improve the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.

Each spring, the Rose Queen accompanies Tournament leadership to the Macon Cherry Blossom Festival (Georgia) and the Fiesta San Antonio Festival (Texas) as “Visiting Royalty.” As such, she meets other queens and participates in various events – including their parades. This month, Queen Ana will travel to Texas to visit the Fiesta San Antonio Festival. Keep an eye out on Facebook for her photos and next blog post recounting her visit!

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How far would you travel for the 2015 Rose Parade?

Helsingor Pipegarde Girls Marching Band Answers with More Than 5,500 Miles

The people of Denmark – the world’s happiest country in the world (according to the 2013 World Happiness Report) – rejoiced earlier this month when 2015 Tournament of Roses President, Richard L. Chinen, traveled 5,500 miles to announce that the Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band is one of 20 bands participating in the 126th Rose Parade.

While bands spend hours practicing and fundraising in preparation for their trip to Pasadena, President Chinen and his wife, Kim, travel around the world, visiting the bands selected to appear in America’s New Year Celebration.

“Each band visit is so different and unique,” said Chinen. “Kim and I really get a chance to get to know the bands, experience new cultures and hear their stories.”

Last month, the Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band welcomed the Chinens to the coastal town of Helsingor, Denmark, located just 45 minutes north of Copenhagen.

Dressed in their traditional marching band garb — blue jackets, white skirts, white boots and a blue and white hat with a red pom pom, the band performed for the president and first lady before being presented with an official Tournament of Roses flag.


Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band is made up of 70 young women ranging from ages 9 to 21.

Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band is made up of 70 young women ranging from ages 9 to 21.

“Being chosen to perform in the Rose Parade is such an honor,” said Band Director Sanne Bergsaker. “It is an experience that each of the girls – and myself included – will cherish and remember for the rest of their lives.”

Representing a town of approximately 45,000 people and the historic Kronborg Castle – the home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – the Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band is the first band from Denmark to march down the famous five-and-a-half mile Rose Parade route.

“Each band brings a different element of entertainment to the parade,” said Chinen. “I can’t wait to see the crowd’s reaction when they see the talent of these young women from Denmark.”

Curious about who you’ll see and hear on Jan. 1? Visit our website for the full list of the 2015 Bands selected to participate in the 126th Rose Parade and tell us who you’re most excited to hear!

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New Year, New President, New Theme – “Inspiring Stories”

In 2013 we went places. In 2014 dreams came true. Now, Richard L. Chinen, 2015 president of the Tournament of Roses is highlighting exceptional individuals with the 126th Rose Parade theme, “Inspiring Stories.”

Chinen who has been a Tournament member for 25 years, continues to be amazed by the organization’s volunteer membership. Each year, 935 volunteers work year-round, juggling regular jobs and Tournament duties, to bring America’s New Year Celebration to life. Sporting white suits, rose pins and a smile, they welcome over 700,000 spectators to Pasadena for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game each January. “The dedication of Tournament members really drives the theme this year,” said Chinen.

Through the subtle member photos that make up the emblematic rose, the theme poster acknowledges individual stories and pays tribute to those who have loved unconditionally, persevered courageously and accomplished much on behalf of others.

Foil lettering was used to signify reflection and remembrance of each person’s own inspiring stories.

Foil lettering was used to signify reflection and remembrance of each person’s own inspiring stories.

Paying tribute to individuals who elevate the human spirit by who they are, what they have done and what they continue to do, Chinen hopes to make the 126th Rose Parade a meaningful and unforgettable experience for all.

“It is my hope that the Tournament’s celebratory events serve as a reminder to take the time to discover inspiring stories,” said Chinen, “those that enrich your life and the lives of others throughout the year.”

Do you have an inspiring story? Share it with us in the comments below!

For more on the 126th Rose Parade theme, check out President Chinen’s interviews with the Pasadena-Star News and Examiner.

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Introducing the 2014 Royal Court

Seven bouquets of red roses were laid out the morning of Monday, October 7, awaiting the seven about-to-be-named Royal Court members. Amid the upbeat music of the Pasadena City College Lancer Band, the air was tense with anticipation as reporters, classmates, and family and friends of the Royal Court finalists filled the south lawn of Tournament House.

Inside the house, the 30 finalists nervously waited for their cues – each clinging to her white suiter escort and grasping a single red rose. Following opening remarks by the Chair of the Queen and Court Committee, Alex Young, they emerged one-by-one to cheers from the crowd and descended the stairs, hoping to hear their name called once more.

The beaming finalists held their breath as Tournament of Roses President Scott Jenkins asked for the envelopes. After a month-long interview process, the wait would soon be over.

Swept up in a wave of shock and excitement upon hearing her name, each princess made her way to the front of the stage. They stood smiling – and shaking – until all seven princesses had been named. Finally, these young women, chosen for their poise, speaking ability, academic achievement, and community involvement, stood before the crowd ready to serve as Tournament of Roses ambassadors:

Jamie Ann Kwong (#24), 17, La Salle High School; Sarah Elizabeth Hansen (#408), 19, Pasadena City College; Ana Marie Acosta (#474), 17, Polytechnic School; Katherine Diane Lipp (#253), 17, La Cañada High School; Elyssia Hadi Widjaja (#86), 17, San Marino High School; Elizabeth Katie Woolf (#254), 17, La Cañada High School; and Kayla Diyana Johnson-Granberry (#446); 17, Pasadena High School.

What’s next for the Royal Court? One of the seven princesses will be announced and crowned as the 96th Rose Queen on Thursday, October 24, at 7 p.m., at First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase from Sharp Seating Company.

Want to hear more about the 2014 Royal Court? Join us on the official Royal Court Facebook page and follow their journey as they make more than 100 appearances leading up to the Rose Parade presented by Honda and the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO.

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It’s the Year of the Comeback – of the Clydesdales

The 2014 Rose Queen and Princesses won’t be the only royalty spending hours in hair and makeup before the Rose Parade. The Clydesdales are back and these gentle giants will undergo a five-hour pampering process as they get ready for their 58th Rose Parade appearance.

After being washed and groomed, the horses will have red and white ribbons braided into their manes and matching bows around their tails. Once all eight are ready, each of their harnesses will be polished, then the team will be harnessed to the wagon (an additional 45 minute process!).

Standing about six feet tall and weighing approximately 2,000 pounds, one Clydesdale consumes as much as 20 to 25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, 50 to 60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water a day!

Standing about six feet tall and weighing approximately 2,000 pounds, one Clydesdale consumes as much as 20 to 25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, 50 to 60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water a day!

Despite a two-year hiatus, the Budweiser Clydesdales enjoy a rich history in the Rose Parade, having made their debut in 1953. It was Carlota “Lotsie” Busch of Anheuser-Busch who began the tradition of substituting horses for motors to propel the City of St. Louis float.  Regardless of advances in engine technology, Clydesdales remained the power of choice and over time, became almost as associated with St. Louis’s float as the prominent Anheuser-Busch name.

While pulling a float has been a signature of the Clydesdales, this year – for the first time – they will participate as an equestrian unit. Instead of a float in tow, the team of eight will pull a 12-ton red, white and gold Studebaker-built beer wagon!  (Be sure to watch for who is riding on that wagon.)

Prior to the Rose Parade, equestrian units will participate in the annual Equestfest event, presented by Wells Fargo, on Dec. 29 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

Curious about the other 2014 Rose Parade Equestrian Entries? Visit to learn more!

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Tournament Hits a Home Run with Vin Scully as 2014 Grand Marshal

Dreams have come true for sports fans everywhere – especially Los Angeles Dodgers fans. Tournament of Roses President Scott Jenkins has selected Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully as the 2014 Grand Marshal. Announced at Tournament House on Thursday, September 5, Scully was made to feel right at home with flourishes from “the national pastime.”

With pennants hung from balconies, Dodger Blue curtains framing the front door, and Cracker Jack being munched by the crowd, anticipation built, along with speculation, as the music of an organ accompanied the murmur of the anxious attendees. Following introductory remarks by President Jenkins and the familiar rally of “Charge!” from the organist, the drapes parted to reveal the beaming 85-year-old broadcast legend.

“Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant Thursday to you!”

“Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant Thursday to you!”

After a standing ovation and cheers from the audience, Scully applauded the Executive Committee for inviting him during one of the Dodgers’ more successful seasons, and predicted that the team will win the Western Division. All jokes and his fun-loving nature aside, Scully expressed his sincere gratitude.

“I am deeply humbled and greatly honored to be the Grand Marshal of the 125th Rose Parade,” he said. “I look forward to sharing this wonderful moment with my wife, Sandi, and the millions who will be watching.”

An icon spanning generations, Scully’s professional baseball broadcasting career began in 1950 and continues today. In fact, Scully will call his 65th season for the Dodgers in 2014. Despite numerous awards and having witnessed some of the greatest moments in baseball history, Scully remains humble and plans on using his time as Grand Marshal to connect with and thank the sports fans who continue to provide the roar of the crowd that he has loved since childhood.

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Tom Mickle BCS Intern Comes to Tournament of Roses

Meet Doug Ingels!  Doug is the Tournament of Roses’ new Game Media Assistant, a position he obtained because of his selection as the 2013-14 Tom Mickle BCS Intern.

Doug Ingels with Coaches

Mickle was an admired sports professional who made many contributions to college football in general and to the development of the BCS in particular. At the time of his death in 2006, Mickle was the executive director of Florida Citrus Sports, host of the Capital One Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl. Prior to that, he was an assistant commissioner at the Atlantic Coast Conference and it was during his time there that he sketched out the beginnings of what would later become the BCS. Before his post at the ACC, Mickle had been an assistant athletics director at Duke University. He was himself a Duke graduate.

Following Mickle’s death, conference commissioners and directors of the four BCS bowls decided to honor his legacy by creating a program to place an intern at the bowl that will host that year’s BCS championship. It’s a win for everyone: the bowl staff gets an extra person (paid by the BCS) to help as they pull together two games just days apart, the intern gets incomparable work experience on two top-level college football games, and a man whose name is enshrined at the College Football Hall of Fame, as a recipient of the Football Writers Association of America’s Bert McGrane Award, is annually remembered and celebrated.

Doug just graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in May. He earned a degree in journalism and economics, and served as a student manager for the Badgers football team during three consecutive Rose Bowl Game appearances. Even though this isn’t his first time in Pasadena, being the Mickle Intern will make the coming months all the more special.

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Annual Bands – Part 2

In addition to the Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band, the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band and the PCC Herald Trumpets – featured last month in Tournament Times – there are two more bands that are annually part of the Rose Parade.

Each New Year’s Day, the United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band members don their dress blue uniforms and march in perfect step down Colorado Boulevard. The band is made up of three Southern California Marine Bands and while those three bands individually perform over 300 times a year, the Rose Parade is the only event that brings them together as a single performance unit. Each member is fully combat-trained, and many have completed tours of duty in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band

Bandfest allows participating groups to incorporate elements that wouldn’t work at all during the parade, like the U.S. Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band’s recreation of the raising of the American flag at Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

The Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band will make its 40th Rose Parade appearance on January 1, 2014. Band Director Anthony White, who marched in the band in 1985 as a student, leads the distinctive-sounding group, made up of only brass and percussion instruments accompanied by drum majors, flag bearers and banner carriers. Student musicians from all over the nation’s second-largest school district have to be recommended by their instructors; since the band’s inception, over 12,000 students have participated.

LAUSD All District High School Honor Band

The LAUSD All District High School Honor Band has only brass and percussion musicians.

In addition to pleasing the crowds lining the parade route, the Marine Corps and LAUSD bands perform at one of three Bandfest events each year. At Pasadena City College’s Robinson stadium, Bandfest gives these groups – and all of the year’s marching bands – the chance to show off additional field show skills and incorporate performance elements that would be difficult to showcase while keeping a steady 2.5-mile-per-hour pace. Of course, making that 105-degree turn from Orange Grove Boulevard onto Colorado Boulevard is no easy feat itself!

What is your favorite marching band memory, either from watching the Rose Parade or as a musician yourself?

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College Football’s Post-Season Future

Unveiling the 100th Rose Bowl Game logo and trophy weren’t the only big announcements that took place during the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) meetings in Pasadena this April. Additional information about the future of college football and the new playoff system were also revealed, providing insight into what’s in store for the sport that so many people love.

Beginning with the 2014-15 season, the name of the new postseason format will be the “College Football Playoff.”  It will feature the top four teams as chosen by a yet-to-be-named selection committee. The Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl will host the first national semifinals, which will pair No. 1 against No. 4, and No. 2 against No. 3 on January 1, 2015. The winners of these two games will face off in the first championship game of the new playoff era on Monday, January 12, 2015, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

In addition, Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, announced that the Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Chick-fil-A Bowl will be part of the six-bowl rotation (along with the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl) that will host the College Football Playoff. Each bowl will host a national semifinal once every three years, with the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl hosting in 2016, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Fiesta Bowl hosting in 2017. The national championship game will be held in a different U.S. city each year.

During the April meetings, the College Football Playoff also launched an online contest to determine its official logo. The ‘Gold Football’ design was the clear winner among four options offered, receiving 101,670 votes from fans, student-athletes, coaches and reporters. That represented 38% of all votes cast.

Football fans: what do you think of the new playoff format?

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From the President: Supporting Our Local Communities

Everyone knows – or at least I hope they do! – that the Tournament of Roses Association is responsible for the annual Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game. What people might not know is that the Tournament is also an important supporter of many other San Gabriel Valley-area organizations. Each year, the Tournament Foundation gives $100,000 to local non-profits so they can fulfill their own missions in serving the community. In fact, we just announced our grant recipients for 2013. Twenty-eight different organizations are receiving financial help from us this time, with grant amounts ranging from $1,600 to $7,600. That might not seem like very much money, but for many of these recipients, support from the Tournament represents the ability to activate a new program or continue one that has shown promise.

In addition to the Foundation and the hard work its Board does in selecting qualified and worthy programs for grants, the Tournament’s Government and Community Relations Committee provides support to non-profit organizations for individual events and programs that might fall outside the Foundation’s sphere. In many cases, the Tournament sends members of its Executive Committee or others from among its volunteer ranks to these events in addition to making financial contributions. Receiving a check is certainly meaningful, but having someone present from the Tournament is significant in a different way and is often just as important.

The Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game are famous all over the world. I’m proud to be the president of the association that makes those events possible. I’m equally proud that the Tournament continues to honor and respect its Pasadena heritage by helping other organizations in the area serve the communities right here in our backyards. To be both global and local in influence is evidence again that “Dreams Come True.”

– Scott Jenkins

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