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 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.
While many activities for Rose Queen Madison and the 2015 Royal Court centered on the build-up to New Year’s Day, their reign continues long after the float ride down Colorado Boulevard. In addition to representing the Tournament of Roses® at a handful of public events within the greater Pasadena area, Queen Madison – along with Tournament officials – have been busy traveling to various festivals throughout the United States.
In between festival events, sightseeing and guided tours, Queen Madison dined in some of San Antonio’s local restaurants with other “Visiting Royalty” in her most recent trip to the Fiesta San Antonio Festival.
Aside from the thrill of adventure – why do the Rose Queen and Tournament officials travel to other festivals?
Simple. The Tournament of Roses shares a reciprocal relationship with 10 national and international festivals. Through these relationships, Tournament officials are invited to attend festivals and parades, and do so with the focus of looking for ways to continually improve America’s New Year Celebration®.
Where will Queen Madison and the Tournament of Roses travel next? Stay tuned to find out!