Yesterday we asked (and answered) the question “Why Times Square?” with regard to the long and time honored New Years tradition in New York of celebrating New Years Eve. So today, we bring you the story of the New Years festivities that occur on the other side of the country to celebrate New Years Day, The Rose Parade. Besides the 1+ million people who line the 5 1/2 mile parade route, there are people who watch literally from all over the world to see the beauty and pageantry of Pasadena’s celebration.
There is a vast and great history connected to The Rose Parade. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this history:
“Members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club first staged the parade in 1890. Since then the parade has been held in Pasadena every New Year’s Day, except when January 1 falls on a Sunday. In that case, it is held on the subsequent Monday, January 2. This exception was instituted in 1893, as organizers did not wish to disturb horses hitched outside Sunday church services.
Many of the members of the Valley Hunt Club were former residents of the American East and Midwest. They wished to showcase their new California home’s mild winter weather. At a club meeting, Professor Charles F. Holder announced, “In New York, people are buried in the 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.”
So the club organized horse-drawn carriages covered in flowers, followed by foot races, polo matches, and a game of tug-of-war on the town lot that attracted a crowd of 2,000 to the event. Upon seeing the scores of flowers on display, the professor decided to suggest the name “Tournament of Roses.”
A Chariot Race during the 1908 or 1911 Tournament of Roses; later replaced by the Rose Bowl Game
Over the next few founding years, marching bands and motorized floats were added. By 1895, the event was too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle, hence the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association was formed. By the 11th annual tournament (1900), the town lot on which the activities were held was renamed Tournament Park, a large open area directly adjacent to Pasadena’s world-famous institution of higher learning, Caltech. Activities soon included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations, and an odd novelty race between a camel and an elephant. (The elephant won the race.) Soon reviewing stands were built along the parade route and newspapers in Eastern Seaboard cities started to take notice of the event.”
In the tradition of the carriages members of the Valley Hunt Club first decorated, this lovely and historical club still has an entry every year. This year, the club’s president and his wife, Bill and Kathy Podley, who happen to be some of our best chums, rode with their family in the VHC carriage adorned in costumes of the 1890’s when the parade was first started. Kathy personally made period costumes for each of their grandchildren to wear and be a part of the fun.
As happens every year, there was tradition and celebration at every turn in this 129th Rose Parade. The crowd loved every moment of it. Many people actually bundle up and whole families sleep on the cold pavement along Colorado Boulevard on New Years Eve and have an all night party while awaiting the parade’s start at 8 am sharp New Years day. The celebration is big and colorful and just plain fun for all ages. Among the beautiful and colorful floats, the equestrian entries, and carriages, there are the marching bands. It is hard, if not impossible, to sit still as the bands and flag troops pass by. This year one band was especially engaging. A high school band from Kyoto, Japan.
New York has their exciting celebration and Pasadena has ours. In less than 24 years, over a million people on each coast come together to celebrate, as the world watches. People put aside their differences and conflicts and just enjoy each other and the moment. This parade is different every year, but what is always the same is the love, the joy, and abundant living that everyone who attends, or even watches on TV, can feel. Here’s to that spirit of celebration and camaraderie lasting all year long. Happy New Year dear chums!