Tournament of Roses Pres. Gerald Freeny sings ‘The Melody of Life’

Gerald Freeny, president of the 2019 Tournament of Roses, at Tournament House. Photo by LB Monteros

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With the Tournament of Roses looking to add more “entertainment value” over the past few years, Pres. Gerald Freeny’s theme for the 2019 Rose Parade, “The Melody of Life,” seems tailor made. But it means more to Freeny than just the excitement that The Forum float with Earth, Wind & Fire brought to the 2018 parade. We had the opportunity chat at Tournament House on Monday about the 130th Rose Parade and 105th Rose Bowl Game, which will be held on Jan. 1, 2019.

“Music is the universal language. It’s something that soothes us, calms us, heals us,” Freeny said. It brings families together and makes enemies into friends, breaks down barriers, breaks down walls, identifies things we have in common. Music brings back memories of special people and loved ones. When Earth, Wind & Fire performed, he said, “everyone was dancing. It brought joy to everyone.”

With music touching nearly everyone, the theme opens many possibilities for float design. “The Melody of Life” fits well with serious and humorous themes, and opens opportunities for performers in all genres of music. Freeny noted that a choir could be on board a float, and music could be gospel, jazz, contemporary, Motown. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrating its 100th anniversary, it could even be classical.

When we asked who his favorite artists are, he had to think. He definitely favors jazz saxophone players though; he mentioned Kenny G, Grover Washington, Jr., Boney James, and Stanley Turrentine, with a nod to guitarist Wes Montgomery. Motown’s high on his list, with the Four Tops, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, and Lionel Richie getting first mentions.

Life in song

Freeny’s alma mater, John Muir High School in Pasadena, had a reputation for music and sports at the time. He chose sports, but he noted that there was music on in the locker room. On Sunday, he was watching ESPN and noticed how many headsets the players had as they walked out to the field and back into the locker room.

“Music, as well as bringing people together, ties families together,” he said. On holidays when family Continue reading “Tournament of Roses Pres. Gerald Freeny sings ‘The Melody of Life’”

Cake & Conversation with the Royal Court

The 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court at Allendale Branch Library: Princesses Lauren Buehner, Alexandra Artura, Queen Isabella Marez, Princesses Julianne Lauenstein, Sydney Pickering, Savannah Bradley.


by Laura Berthold Monteros

Queen Isabella, 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court, listens to questions at Allendale Library.

What is it like to be on the Tournament of Roses Royal Court? Last Wednesday at Allendale Branch Library in Pasadena, people had the opportunity to find out more about how Rose Queen Isabella Marez and the Rose Princesses view their experiences since the Court was named in October, 2017. Cake and Conversation with the Royal Court has become an annual event at Allendale, and both girls and boys (and a sprinkling of men and women) were there to meet the seven young ladies who represent the TOR and City of Pasadena.

Librarian Veronica Fuentes Bernal acted as emcee, opening with a set of questions before turning it over to the audience. The responses of the young women manifested maturity, self-awareness, a deep interest in other people, and an understanding of their place in the community as ambassadors. This insight was reflected in the responses to a young girl in the front row, who asked what it is like to be on the Royal Court.

Princess Alexandra Artura replied, “It’s more of a job than you think it is, but it’s one I really enjoy.” She noted that the Royal Court represents the city, their schools, and their families.

“People don’t realize you’re not a princess yourself,” Princess Lauren Buehner said. “People want to see you for what you represent.”

Queen Isabella noted the sisterhood that the seven young women had formed, the changes they had made in the community, and making a difference in the world.

Later, Princess Julianne Lauenstein said, “The best moment was when we turned the corner from Orange Grove to Colorado and could see all the people lined up. That must indeed be an overwhelming moment; many queens and princesses throughout the years have mentioned it.

Boys and girls came to Allendale Library to hear the young women on the 2018 Royal Court.

Meeting people, from the many retirement homes they visited to talking to hospitalized children, was stated several times. Princess Savannah Bradley said she was inspired by the people she met, and disappointed that she had to stand in the hall at one of the hospitals because she had a cold. (Library assistant Terry Cannon asked about that; it turns out that with their busy schedules and fall maladies, all the girls got sick at one point or another.)


They mentioned celebrities like Grand Marshal Gary Sinise and the oldest living Rose Queen, Margaret Huntley Main. Queen Isabella Continue reading “Cake & Conversation with the Royal Court”

Tournament of Roses crowns 100th Rose Queen Isabella: Photo gallery

100th Rose Queen Isabella Marie Marez is flanked by (L-R) Rose Princesses Georgia Jane Cervenka, Sydney Grace Pickering, Julianne Elise Lauenstein, Alexandra Marie Artura, Savannah Rose Bradley, Lauren Elizabeth Buehner


by Laura Berthold Monteros

One of the most exciting events for Rose Parade aficionados—and that includes people all across America—is the Announcement and Coronation of the Rose Queen and Presentation of the Royal Court. This year, people were especially riveted, because the young woman who made it from one of 700 to one of seven would serve as the 100th Rose Queen. She will preside over the 129th Rose Parade and the 104th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2018 and will be asked a thousand times what it is like to be Number 100.

The audience waited breathlessly last Wednesday evening as Pres. Lance Tibbet pulled the name out of the envelope he had been handed by Queen & Court chair Dave Link. Reporters and photographers had pens and cameras at the ready. The seven girls on the Royal Court held hands, some with eyes closed, and steeled themselves for the decision one way or another. And it came, so swiftly after what must have seemed like an eternity to them.

Pres. Tibbet announced, “The 100th Rose Queen, from La Salle High School, is Isabella Marie Marez!” The audience exploded. The princesses on the Royal Court swarmed Queen Isabella. The moment had arrived and passed, and the Queen for a Year retreated to change from her champagne and pink gown into pure white.

Making a Difference

The event is more than the announcement, of course. It’s about pageantry and history and fun, and the accomplishments of the young women who will serve as ambassadors for the Tournament of Roses. We attempt to capture some of that in this article; the photo gallery at the end of this article takes you there in images.

After a reception on the patio of the historic Pasadena Playhouse, also celebrating 100 years, the Continue reading “Tournament of Roses crowns 100th Rose Queen Isabella: Photo gallery”

Tournament of Roses 2018 Royal Court Princess profiles

Suddenly Stars: The 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court

Julianne Elise Lauenstein, La Cañada HS; Sydney Grace Pickering, Arcadia HS; Savannah Rose Bradley, Pasadena HS; Georgia Jane Cervenka, La Cañada HS; Lauren Elizabeth Buehner, Arcadia HS; Isabella Marie Marez, La Salle HS; Alexandra Marie Artura, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy


by Laura Berthold Monteros

One of seven amazing young women will be the 100th Rose Queen, reigning over the 129th Rose Parade and 104th Rose Bowl Game, which take place on Jan. 1, 2018. All of them will be Pasadena Royalty, serving as ambassadors for the Tournament of Roses and the City of Pasadena, as well as their own communities and schools. On Monday on the south porch of Tournament House, 37 finalists stood waiting for Pres. Lance Tibbet to announce the names of the girls chosen for this role. Each one is outstanding, as readers will discover, and lives out the theme “Making a Difference.”

Be sure to check out the gallery below for photos and more about the Royal Court announcement. For more articles on the 2018 Royal Court, visit our special 2018 Royal Court page.

Queen & Court Committee Chair Dave Link gave a brief history of the Rose Parade queens, and then called the name and number of each finalist. After they took their places on the south steps of Tournament House, Pres. Tibbet came to the lectern.

“We acknowledge the 99 special women who made this possible,” he said of the previous queens, and noted the high level of character and comportment they had established. Referring to the finalists, he Continue reading “Tournament of Roses 2018 Royal Court Princess profiles”

Royal Court hopefuls line up for an opportunity to be a princess in the 2018 Rose Parade

2017 Princesses Natalie Rose Petrosian, Lauren “Emi” Emiko Powers, and Maya Kawaguchi Khan performed one of the final Royal Court duties of orienting the hundreds of girls who were trying out for 2018.


by Laura Berthold Monteros

For many teenage girls living in the Pasadena area, trying out for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court is a family or school tradition. They come with their friends and each has a story about why she wants to represent the Tournament and the community in the 129th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2018 and throughout the year. Seven young women will be chosen to promote the 2018 theme “Making a Difference” by serving for a year on the 2018 Royal Court. One of those seven will become the 100th Rose Queen, an event so monumental that Pasadena Museum of History has an exhibit dedicated to the Royal Court.

We spoke with some of the teens who came on a beautiful Saturday morning with a cool high for the day of 90 degrees—much nicer than the 100+ temperatures of past tryouts. We caught them before their turn in front of the panel of judges to say, in a few seconds, why they wanted to be on the Court. They had a bit more time with The Rose Examiner! Here, with their photos, are their comments. Be sure to check out the gallery, too, which has lots of photos of the event. All the articles on the Royal Court are linked on this dedicated page as they are posted.  Continue reading “Royal Court hopefuls line up for an opportunity to be a princess in the 2018 Rose Parade”

Wingtip to Wingtip, WASP fly with the best in the 2014 Rose Parade

WASP pilots Shirley Kruse, Jean McCreery and Barbara Simon. Copyright L.B. Monteros 2013


by Laura Berthold Monteros

NOTE: This is a reposting of an article that appeared on on Dec. 29, 2013. The last WASP to ride on the 2014 float “Our Eyes Are on the Stars” slipped the surly bonds of earth yesterday.

It was guys in planes who won the war, right?  The war, World War II.  The guys tested the aircraft and flew them from here to there.  Well, there were a few, but according to the National WASP World War II Museum, more than 50 percent of the ferrying of high-speed pursuit aircraft (now called fighters) between 1942 and 1944 was done by women.  These women were WASP.

Examiner interviewed three of these women today at Fiesta Parade Floats, where “Our Eyes Are On The Stars,” a float to honor the Women Airforce Service Pilots, is being built.  The service they performed was ferrying fighters across the country, flying tow target tests for shooting practice, and testing planes so that the men could fly them overseas.

We spoke with pilots Shirley Kruse, Jean McCreery and Barbara Simon who have come to Pasadena for the Rose Parade.  When the war ended, the WASP were dismissed without benefits, without even bus fare home.  “It was a wonderful time, I tell you,” Kruse said.  “We were so disappointed when we were deactivated.  They Continue reading “Wingtip to Wingtip, WASP fly with the best in the 2014 Rose Parade”

Twenty Mule Team brings back Death Valley Days with remarkable craftsmanship

Living history: Twenty Mule Team pulls replicas of the iconic Death Valley boron ore wagons down the 2017 Rose Parade route. In the wagons are the family of Pres. Brad Ratliff and people involved in bringing this piece of history to life. Copyright 2017 R. Monteros


by Laura Berthold Monteros

The last time the Twenty Mule Team pulled freight wagons along Colorado Blvd. in the Rose Parade was 1999, when Pres. Dick Ratliff chose the 110-year-old wagons as his personal conveyance. They were back on Jan. 2, 2017 for the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade at the request of Pres. Brad Ratliff, Dick’s son, in an illustration of his theme “Echoes of Success.” He and his family filled two wagons, this time brand-new replicas of the original 1882 lorries that hauled 10 tons of borax each. The Ratliff family was a light load by comparison, so the wagons had to be weighted with huge water tanks.

“Mules need the weight to pull,” Preston Chiaro, president of the Death Valley Conservancy (DVC),  said adding that the weight also helps with braking. Plywood platforms and hay bales were included so the riders could stand and wave to the crowd.

The third appearance of the team was also an echo of its first Rose Parade appearance a century ago, when it also appeared in the inauguration parade of Pres. Woodrow Wilson. The wagons were decorated for the parade by FTD floral designers J. Keith White, AIFD CFD and Peter Samek, AIFD. White told The Rose Examiner during Deco Week that he wasn’t sure how he would flower what seem like gigantic wooden bins, but the photos show that they did an excellent job of nesting white and red roses in green garlands, with white tulips, carnations, baby breath, and other flowers as accents.

Be sure to check out the gallery below for photos and more information in the captions.

The commission to build the wagons came in January, 2016, and was given to Dave Engel, owner of Engel’s Coach Shop in Joliet, Mont. The shop builds and restores equine-drawn conveyances from sleds to broughams to Yellowstone coaches. He started on this project Continue reading “Twenty Mule Team brings back Death Valley Days with remarkable craftsmanship”

California Milk Advisory Board celebrates 200+ years of dairy farming with 2017 Rose Parade float

“Legacy of Generations” sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board honored the two-century heritage of dairy farming in the Golden State. Many of the decoration materials on the California Milk Advisory Board float represent the food dairy farm families feed their dairy cows. Cows consume food byproducts (citrus pulp, almond hulls, corn stalks), which not only keeps them out of landfills, but is turned by cows into nutritious milk. Ground almond hulls, walnut shells, whole barley, flax seed and oats are used. Many of the materials on the float represent the food dairy farm families feed their dairy cows, byproducts such as citrus pulp, almond hulls, walnut shells, whole barley, flax seed and cottonseed, oats, and corn stalks.


by Laura Berthold Monteros

Quick! Which state is Number One in dairy production? Wisconsin? Texas? How about Minnesota? Nope. The top dairy state is also home to the Tournament of Roses. California produces almost 50 percent more milk with 40 percent more cows than the next state. California produced enough milk in 2015 to fill the Rose Bowl Stadium 58 times.

“Legacy of Generations,” sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), celebrated more than 200 years of dairy farming and families in the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 2, 2017. The float, a confection of ice cream, milk, yogurt, and cheese in flowers, was designed by Art Aguirre and built by Fiesta Parade Floats. Riders were from multi-generational dairy families representing more than 1,300 dairy farm families in the state, families which own and operate 99 percent of the dairy farms in the Golden State. With one in five cows in the United States residing in California, a Holstein graced her very own satellite float.

We spoke with some of the riders who were present at the California Grown presentation at Fiesta Parade Floats on Jan. 1. More about the presentation, which honors Rose Parade entries that use at least 85 percent California grown flowers, in a later article. For now, we will focus on these folks who provide milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and all kinds of dairy products to California and the nation. There are short videos of some of them on the CMAB website. (Scroll down a bit.)

Photos of the California Milk Advistory Board float are in the gallery below, with descriptions of the materials used.

Many of the materials on the float represent the food dairy farm families feed their dairy cows, byproducts such as citrus pulp, almond hulls, walnut shells, Continue reading “California Milk Advisory Board celebrates 200+ years of dairy farming with 2017 Rose Parade float”

Lucy Pet presents surfing dogs and football cats at the Rose Parade Showcase of Floats: Video, photos

Joey Herrick, founder of Lucy Pet Foundation and Lucy Pet Products, with the dog that started it all, Lucy herself. Rose Parade Showcase of Floats, Jan. 3, 2017.
Joey Herrick with the dog that started it all, Lucy herself.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Second in a series of two

Joey Herrick made a splash at the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade with a passel of pooches surfing on a 65-foot long wave in a gigantic tank of water. In addition to winning the Extraordinaire Trophy for “Most Spectacular Float,” Lucy Pet’s “Gnarly Crankin’ K-9 Wave Maker” broke two Guinness World Records. Read about that here. As “Who Let the Dogs Out” boomed over the Showcase of Floats, we got an opportunity to talk to Herrick and Doc Karen Halligan and to climb the 24-foot tall float to video the dogs.

After Herrick retired from Natural Balance pet foods, he embarked on a mission to drastically reduce the number of stray dogs and cats and the four million that shelters put down annually. He founded Lucy Pet Foundation, named after a stray Chihuahua he rescued, and fitted out a motor home as a self-contained mobile clinic that can spay and neuter more than 120 pets each week. His goal is to have mobile clinic in every major city in the country. It’s estimated that just one clinic can prevent 120,000 animals being added to the homeless pet population.

“The float is the greatest publicity for Lucy Pet,” he told The Rose Examiner. Noting the huge Continue reading “Lucy Pet presents surfing dogs and football cats at the Rose Parade Showcase of Floats: Video, photos”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation honors Orlando shooting victims on 2017 Rose Parade float

A white dove, symbol of world peace, soars above a field of 49 stars, one for each of those who died. The double rainbow exemplifies promise, beauty and  enlightenment with the message of eternal hope and life. Replicas of actual messages of condolences from those who lost loved ones flutter from the Memorial Tree. Stored inside the float are more than 5,000 memorial notes from around the world. Courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses.


by Laura Berthold Monteros

On June 12, 2016, 49 men and women were killed and 53 others wounded in a mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub Pulse. On Jan. 2, 2017, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) float will honor the victims on a beautiful Rose Parade float, “To Honor & Remember Orlando.” It is designed by Art Aguirre and built by Fiesta Parade Floats. We spoke about the choice of theme and what it means to the community with three of the riders, Ged Kinslea, Senior Director, Communications for AHF; Gustavo Marrero, Vice President of Impulse Group Orlando; and Corey Lyons, President of Impulse Group Orlando.

Kinslea said that with 2017 being the 30th anniversary of AHF, the original idea had been to celebrate that anniversary on their annual float. “Fiesta Parade Floats reaches out early in the year and gives us the theme,” he said, but AHF doesn’t firm up a concept until July or August. “June 12 happened. As soon as that hit, we decided that should be the focus. We delegated it to Fiesta. The direction AHF gave was to “be spectacular.” AHF and Impulse Group were presented with three designs, and both agreed on the one illustrated above.

In choosing the theme, Marrero said, “Remembering and honoring those we lost in Orlando is the primary focus. Secondary is shedding light that Orlando still needs their help.” The float is a great opportunity to shed light on families, victims, and survivors of the tragedy, he said, and to honor lost lives and look to a better future. Impulse consulted Continue reading “AIDS Healthcare Foundation honors Orlando shooting victims on 2017 Rose Parade float”