Flowers, Floats and Adventure Found at Decorating Places presented by Giti Tire

In the days leading up to America’s New Year Celebration®, Rose Parade® participants log countless hours in last-minute preparations. While marching bands review sheet music and equestrian units polish their tack, thousands of volunteers from the greater Pasadena-area work around the clock decorating floats.

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From the concept sketch to the final product, hundreds of people collaborate to produce the floral masterpieces that make the 5 ½ mile journey down Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Day.

In the early years of the Rose Parade, horse drawn buggies and wagons were adorned with flowers from neighbors’ yards. Over the years, as the landscape of the Rose Parade shifted from wagons to floats, so did the decorating techniques and overall creativity. Today, Rose Parade floats feature state-of-the-art sound, animatronics and flowers from around the world.

1891 "Float" Entry

1891 “Float” Entry

Despite advances in technology, all floats must be completely covered in natural materials. In order to do so, float builders welcome hundreds of volunteers throughout the month of December to affix seeds, shrubs and of course, flowers.

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Curious about the float decorating process and materials used? Stop by Decorating Places for a behind-the-scenes look!

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An Adventure – and Internship – of a Lifetime

In addition to the 935 Tournament of Roses® volunteer members who contribute upwards of 80,000 hours of manpower, one dedicated group of students from Pasadena City College annually works alongside white suiters to produce America’s New Year Celebration®.

Each year, select members of PCC’s Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society join the Tournament of Roses family as PCC Interns. Assigned to one of the Tournament’s 31 operating committees, PCC Interns work closely with the Tournament’s volunteer members and gain valuable experiences and unforgettable memories.

2015 PCC Intern Orientation photo

Members of the 2014-2015 PCC Intern Class attend a welcome reception at Tournament House before beginning work with their committees.

Lydia Wang, a PCC Intern since fall 2013, spent the 2015 Rose Parade® season working with the Alumni/ Social Media Committee taking photos used for the Tournament of Roses social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“I always feel so accomplished to see the photos I took at events actually get posted and shared on the Tournament’s official pages,” she said. “It is also so much fun to work with the committee members and the other interns!”

With more than 700,000 spectators lining the streets of Pasadena for the Rose Parade and approximately 90,000 that fill the Rose Bowl Stadium for the Rose Bowl Game®, PCC interns interact with a lot of people.

“When I volunteered for the 100th Rose Bowl Game Tailgate, a couple interns and I met Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple!

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After getting permission to take a photo with him on her phone, Tim Cook smiled at Lydia and then said “nice phone” when he saw her hold out her iPhone 5.

“While it’s nice to meet a celebrity at one of the events, it is not the only the purpose of volunteering for the Tournament of Roses. We (interns) can have a lot of fun but certain assignments can be challenging. I have a lot of good memories from volunteering and had so much fun on New Year’s Day!  It’s truly a wonderful and one-of-a-kind experience.”

For more information on the PCC Intern Program, visit our website!

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Tournament House – A Treasure Trove of History, Stories and Surprise

While the dates and times of Tournament House Tours are set each year for every Thursday at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. from February through August, there’s no limit to the wealth of information available to guests who visit the property to learn about America’s New Year Celebration®.

Led by volunteers from the Tournament of Roses® Heritage Committee, docents incorporate stories and information that they’ve gathered throughout their years of service producing the Rose Parade® and Rose Bowl Game®; in addition to stories about the property’s 100-plus years on Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena.

Wrigley Mansion, the Orange Grove Boulevard estate, serves as the official headquarters of the Tournament of Roses Association, its staff and the 935 volunteers who work year-round to organize the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.

Wrigley Mansion, the Orange Grove Boulevard estate, serves as the official headquarters of the Tournament of Roses Association, its staff and the 935 volunteers who work year-round to organize the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.

Like the docents, each room within the Wrigley Mansion has a story. Take the “Eisenhower Bathroom” for example. Located on the first floor opposite the staircase, this bathroom earned its name in 1964 when former president Dwight D. Eisenhower served as Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade.

Shortly before the parade was to begin, Eisenhower suddenly was nowhere to be found.  After an exhausted search of the home and mild panic by parade organizers, Eisenhower was located in the men’s restroom – where the door had jammed.  Between the mansion’s one-foot-thick reinforced concrete walls, solid mahogany door and the noise of the pre-parade preparations within Tournament House, it was nearly impossible for anyone to hear Eisenhower’s cries for help.  Fortunately, he was recovered just in time for the parade!

Following his rescue from the “Eisenhower Bathroom,” Dwight D. Eisenhower rides in the 1964 Rose Parade (ironically) themed, “Symbols of Freedom.”

Following his rescue from the “Eisenhower Bathroom,” Dwight D. Eisenhower rides in the 1964 Rose Parade (ironically) themed, “Symbols of Freedom.”

Open to the public, there’s no telling who will stop by Tournament House for a tour. Over the years, visitors have ranged from former Grand Marshals, Royal Court members and their families and others with ties to the property and the Tournament of Roses. Don’t miss your last chance to tour Tournament House and get a behind-the-scenes look at the history of Wrigley Mansion and America’s New Year Celebration before tours conclude on August 27!

For more information on House Tours, please visit our website.

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The Rose Parade® Through the Lens of a Broadcaster

While more than 700,000 spectators line the streets of Pasadena to experience the Rose Parade in person, more than 81 million people around the world enjoy the parade within the comfort of their homes. From the months that precede the parade through the morning of New Year’s Day, producers from various networks work tirelessly to gather information, draft scripts and prepare on-air talent to create a unique Rose Parade experience for their viewers.

What does it take to broadcast the Rose Parade? The Tournament of Roses® asked Joe Quasarano, executive producer of KTLA’s Rose Parade broadcast, for a behind-the-scenes peek at the Rose Parade through the lens of a broadcast team.

For more than 20 years, Quasarano has played a key role in producing KTLA’s Rose Parade coverage.

For more than 20 years, Quasarano has played a key role in producing KTLA’s Rose Parade coverage.

“Preparation for the KTLA Rose Parade broadcast begins for us right after Labor Day,” said Quasarano. “During this time, we secure video trucks and start to see the floats in their various stages of construction.”

Several months before the parade, Quasarano prepares homework for KTLA hosts Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards regarding parade entries while writers work on the script – a process that spans September to late December – gathering and editing detailed facts about each entry.

In addition to preparations for the domestic KTLA broadcast, Quasarano also works with third parties regarding timing in other parts of the world and delays for the international broadcast.

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While the parade route is 5½ miles long, broadcasters are positioned along the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevard, an area that over the years has been nicknamed “TV Corner.”

“The day after Christmas, Bob and Stephanie visit the floats in person and are given their scripts to review so that they can learn facts about each entry,” said Quasarano. Once Christmas passes, it’s crunch time.

In the days leading up to the parade, while thousands of volunteers flock to the float barns to decorate the parade’s floral masterpieces, broadcasters are busy adding last minute information to their scripts.

On December 28, set up – a process that involves approximately 130 technicians – begins and is followed by rehearsal on New Year’s Eve. The morning of the parade, the crew arrives at 2 a.m. to set up while the news crew conducts KTLA’s pre-parade coverage at 6 a.m.

A New Year’s Day tradition, the Rose Parade brings joy to millions of people around the world through a variety of broadcasts available to almost every continent and in multiple languages. Can’t make it to Pasadena this year to witness the parade in person? Check out our list of broadcasters to find a station near you!

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A Taste of Japan

Toho High School Dragon Band Welcomes Tournament of Roses® President and First Lady with Sights, Sounds and Delicious Cuisine

Last month, Tournament of Roses 2016 President Mike Matthiessen and First Lady Ann traveled to Japan to welcome the Toho High School Dragon Band to the 2016 Rose Parade®. Check out Ann’s recollection of their Japanese adventure below:

“Our trip to Japan was a whirlwind of activities and unforgettable moments! In between sightseeing and spending time with the Toho High School Wind Ensemble, we enjoyed a variety of delicious Japanese cuisine (including eel) under the guidance of our host Mr. Kumagai, the Executive Director of the Green Band (and well-known food blogger). But as always, our favorite part of any band trip, is visiting the band and meeting the students.

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We visited many Japanese temples, shrines, and castles in the cities of Nara, Kyoto, and Nagoya. My personal favorite was the beautiful Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) in Kyoto.

The members of the Toho High School Wind Ensemble delighted us with a performance at their high school in Nagoya.  Following their performance, Mike presented the Tournament of Roses flag while their proud parents looked on. Just when we thought the performances were over, we discovered that they had a big surprise in store for us – an original song written just for their trip to Pasadena!

 

Mike and I were very moved by the beautiful lyrics of the song called “In the Name of Love.”  Following the performance, we greeted students and parents in the cafeteria while signing 2016 Rose Parade posters.  Throughout the trip many pictures were taken, memories made and new friendships formed.  Arigato (thank you), Toho High School, for an amazing adventure.

 

While serious and focused throughout their performance, members of the Toho High School Dragon Band were all smiles while getting their posters signed by President Matthiessen.

While serious and focused throughout their performance, members of the Toho High School Dragon Band were all smiles while getting their posters signed by President Matthiessen.

With only six months until America’s New Year Celebration®, Mike and Ann will spend the summer visiting participating marching bands in the 2016 Rose Parade. Which Adventure is next for the president and first lady? Stay tuned to find out!

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Horse Power – High-stepping Down Colorado Boulevard

Since the first Rose Parade® in 1890, horses have played a special role in America’s New Year Celebration®. From pulling flower-covered carriages to providing “horse power” for the first floats, the role of equestrian units has evolved over time. Despite the advent of motorized vehicles and technology, today’s highly trained equestrian units remain an integral component of the Rose Parade line-up.

Carefully selected each year, equestrian units highlight a variety of horse breeds, skilled riders (sporting eye-catching costumes) and hand-crafted tack to add to the entertainment value of the Rose Parade and the annual Equestfest. While traditional equestrian units in the Tournament of Roses® history were comprised primarily of horses, the 2015 Rose Parade equestrian roster included a unique entry made up entirely of mules!

The United States Forest Service celebrates wilderness management mules as an equestrian unit in the 2015 Rose Parade presented by Honda on January 1, 2015.

The United States Forest Service celebrates wilderness management mules as an equestrian unit in the 2015 Rose Parade presented by Honda on January 1, 2015.

The United States Forest Service equestrian unit featured 23 Sorrel mules with three pack strings. These pack strings represented the Forest Service history, the important role that pack stock play in supporting wildland firefighters and the 50th anniversary of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

From 1905-1950, the Forest Service used mules for wilderness management and trail construction before being replaced by technology. On January 1st this year, the United States Forest Service equestrian unit celebrated the return of its mules to wilderness management. The mules that appeared in the 2015 Rose Parade were all working mules who returned to work in the wilderness following their trek down Colorado Boulevard.

What equestrian units will you see in the 2016 Rose Parade? The deadline for equestrian units to apply is May 31, 2015. For more information, please visit our website.

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