Photos: Chaka Khan and Gerald Freeny at Rose Parade Grand Marshal Announcement

Chaka Khan, 2019 Rose Parade Grand Marshal, was surprised by the colorful confetti raining down when she came through the purple curtains.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The announcement of the Grand Marshal for the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade had the usual elements. Oct. 17 was a beautiful, warm day, the front porch of Tournament House was gorgeously draped, the band was great, the press stand packed. There was the usual excitement in the audience, waiting to find out who would ride in the Grand Marshal’s car on Jan. 1, 2019. When Chaka Khan was announced, the crowd roared and the confetti cannon went off.

Known as the “Queen of Funk,” Chaka also sings R&B, pop, rock, gospel, and country. We asked what other music she likes; she responded, “I love Indian music.” She just finished a project in the Gujarati language with Indian performer Sonu Nigam, which celebrates the life of Gandhi.

Check out the gallery below for photos, and this link for a video on the TOR Rose Parade Facebook page.

But there was a lot that was unusual in the announcement.

There were fewer hints in the food served, music played, decorations (except for the purple drapes), yet from the murmurs in the crowd, it seemed like more people than normal had an idea of whom it would be. That may have been because more details were released ahead of time—10 Grammy awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a place in the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. In his introduction, Pres. Gerald Freeny gave more details that confirmed those hunches, and affirmed that she was indeed a performer who would sing and dance in the opening act of the parade.

Chaka and her retinue were late, reportedly due to LA traffic. The Tournament, which makes sure the Rose Parade starts at 8 a.m. on the dot and the Rose Bowl Game coin toss is never late, announced that the star player would be 15 minutes behind the 9 a.m. start time. It was a quarter after when family members took their seats in the front row, and past 9:30 when Freeny stepped up to the lectern.

Now, a heads-up: Much of this article reflects the opinions of the writer, which is also unusual. If there is one constant in the feelings of folks who love the Rose Parade, it is that they very rarely and almost never publicly criticize the choice of a theme or Grand Marshal. People tend to be pretty polite when it comes to this grand old Pasadena tradition, and the criticism The Rose Examiner heard was couched in the politest terms.

There was disappointment about Chaka’s speech, which seemed thoroughly unprepared. She opened with “Well, I just don’t know where to go with this,” but added, “I’m so honored.” She thrice referred to “the Rose Bowl Parade,” which any GM would have been coached not to do. The theme, “The Melody of Life,” was garbled into “The Rhythm of Life.” References to the parade indicated that she had just not done her homework. (To her credit, she did name the Old Pasadena business district correctly.)

Other than noting that the floats are pretty, she seemed to have no interest in the Rose Parade. She said, “I remember looking at it. But not really looking…. Y’know, it was after the big game.” The game actually comes after the parade. It did seem she was a tad self-conscious—she said, “I hope you like me” and acknowledged that she was “a little bit scared.”

She said little about the Chaka Khan Foundation or what it does. This contrasted with previous Grand Marshals, such as Gary Sinise, whose tireless work for veterans is well known and very personal to him. Jane Goodall had not known about our American tradition when approached, but took the time to find out and agreed to be GM, because it is consistent with the values of her charitable work. Actor J.R. Martinez was not a star but has an amazing, compelling story and whose courage is indisputable.

There was also some speculation that Stevie Wonder, whom Freeny mentioned three times, was his first choice for Grand Marshal, not Chaka. Indicators were her lack of preparation and not having any idea what she would do for the opening show. Be that as it may, it is not unusual for a president to go with a second or third choice and it doesn’t reflect on how good a GM might be.

A friend of your Rose Examiner was refused by his first choice, who was not available on New Year’s Day, and his second choice backed out at the last minute. His third choice, Gregory Peck, proved to be one of the happiest GMs ever. When he was a child, his family drove up from San Diego to watch the parade every year. One year, they took a stray dog back with them. He was the first, and perhaps only, GM to get the Tournament time on The Tonight Show, due to his friendship with Johnny Carson.

Another late choice was Chesley Sullenberger III for 2010—late, because the TOR president had passed away before choosing a Grand Marshal. Yet what better choice could there have been that year for the theme “A Cut Above the Rest” than the “Hero of the Hudson.”

The Chaka Khan Foundation

Perhaps these comments come out of a suspicion about non-profits, due to years of working for both good ones and bad ones. It is difficult to tell from the foundation website whether the organization is actually out in the community working on programs, or simply partnering with other organizations that do the work. It is fine if a foundation does not actually create or run programs, but supports successful programs financially and with star power. That should be clear in the material, though, whether spoken, written, or posted online. It would have been good to hear more about it from the Tournament media release or Chaka herself.

Chaka established the Chaka Khan Foundation in 1999. The mission statement is “The Chaka Khan Foundation educates, inspires and empowers children in our community to achieve their full potential.” The foundation website says “The Chaka Khan Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.”

However, it does not show up by EIN search on either Charity Navigator or GuideStar, and only on GuideStar by name, with the note “This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.” The “foundation team” has photos but no names attached, and does not state that is a board of directors as required by law. The only information on  the team page is a long promotional piece for the album “ClassiKhan.”

If Chaka did not do her homework on the Tournament of Roses, it appears that the Tournament of Roses did not do its homework on her foundation, either.

 

Who’s your guess for the 2019 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal?

2019 Tournament of Roses poster

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The person—or persons—who will serve as Grand Marshal for the 130th Rose Parade and toss the coin for the 105th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2019 will be announced at Tournament House on Wednesday, October 17 at 9 a.m. Pres. Gerald Freeny will do the honors Who will it be?

The theme is “The Melody of Life,” so that’s a clue. The poster and signs feature a saxophone—could that be a clue? Pres. Freeny likes jazz, but also rock and hymnody. Here’s what we wrote after we interviewed him last January:

With such an expansive theme, it’s difficult to make guesses about who the Grand Marshal might be. Freeny said they are working on several. He, his wife Trina, and adult daughter Erica are “praying to get who we really, really want.” They aren’t short on suggestions, though. One was Condoleeza Rice, who is a highly talented pianist as well as having served as both National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for George W. Bush. Even her name is melodious: It’s derived from con dolcezza, a musical term meaning “with sweetness.” LA Phil music director Gustavo Dudamel has been mentioned, but Freeny’s frat brothers in Kappa Alpha Psi are pushing for someone from Motown. He even opined that it could be more than one, as Brad Ratliff had in the 2017 parade.

Our guesses include classical music artists such as Condi Rice or local hero Gustavo Dudamel, Broadway star Audra McDonald, or an entire group from rock, Motown, or other popular music genre. Somehow, however, we just don’t have a handle on where this might go. There are too many genres of music and too many great musicians to make an educated guess.

Let us know yours in the comments! You have to sign in (this is to avoid spam comments), but we never use your information. And don’t forget to watch the announcement, streaming live on Facebook!

Celebrity lineup in the 2018 Rose Parade: Rose Queen, Pres. Tibbet, PCC Honor Band

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The Tournament of Roses Parade steers clear of being a parade of personalities, but there are five VIP entries every year: Tournament president, Grand Marshal, Pasadena mayor, Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductees, and of course, the Rose Queen and Royal Court. The gallery below includes the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band and Herald Trumpets, because when it comes to Pasadena celebrities, they are right up there.

Today, center stage are Pres. Lance Tibbet, Rose Queen Isabella Marez and the Rose Princesses introduced by the Herald Trumpets, Mayor Terry Tornek, and the Tournament of Roses Honor Band. The information on each is in the captions with the photos. We’ve already written about Grand Marshal Gary Sinise in “Honoring vets in the 2018 Rose Parade” and will cover the sports aspect of the parade and more about the cars and flowering in upcoming pieces.

A bit about the band: It’s comprised of the PCC Lancer Band, plus 200 of the more than 500 high school music students who auditioned. Jack Taylor is the band director, Tad Carpenter is the percussion director, and Dr. James Arnwine, dean of the Performing Arts at PPC, served as the assistant band director.

 

All photos are copyrighted by LB Monteros. Contact for permissions.

2019 Tournament of Roses

 

THE MELODY OF LIFE

The 2019 Tournament of Roses in photos and stories

With bands from all over the world marching in the 130th Rose Parade and performing at Bandfest, “America’s New Year Celebration” promises to live up to the theme “The Melody of Life.” The days before and after the parade and 105th Rose Bowl Game are filled with things to do for people of all ages and abilities. Locals and visitors can attend Bandfest, Equestfest, Decorating Places, Showcase of Floats, and Live on Green

The big events, of course, are the parade and game, held on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The Rose parade is a two-hour extravaganza of flower-covered floats, cars carrying Tournament of Roses celebrities, marching bands, and equestrian units. The Rose Bowl Game pits top football teams in “The Granddaddy of Them All,” the oldest post-season collegiate bowl game.

Whether you watch online, on television, or live in Pasadena, The Rose Examiner will keep you informed. This page will be updated as new articles are added. Subscribe for free by filling out the box at the top of the left column, and be sure to bookmark this page and return to it frequently! You can also follow “All Things Rose Parade” on Facebook.

Poster courtesy of Pasadena Tournament of Roses

General Information

There is no such thing as the Rose BOWL Parade!

Will it rain on my Rose Parade? The rules: No Sundays, water themes, or Supreme Court Justices equals no rain

What’s in a nickname? How Pasadena California is known to locals and the world

Tournament of Roses News & Events

Make a real difference with Real Change meters

Rose Parade

Information, floats, marching bands, and equestrians

The 2019 Royal Court  Articles will be posted beginning in late August

Articles & albums about the Tournament of Roses Royal Court

Rose Bowl Game  Articles will be posted as information is released

Information, events, people

Special Events

Tickets for the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade on sale now

Rose Parade 2019 events: Buy tickets for Bandfest, Equestfest, Decorating Places, Showcase of Floats

Tournament House open for public tours through August

Celebrities & Sponsors

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

Gerald Freeny elected Tournament of Roses president; theme is ‘The Melody of Life’

Tournament of Roses announces executive committee for 2018-2019

Tournament of Roses creates Rose Parade development office

Helpful Links

Tournament of Roses

Tournament of Roses Parade Day Guide

Visit Pasadena Rose Parade spectator guide

Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau

Rose Bowl Stadium

Visit Pasadena Rose Bowl Game spectator guide

Rose Parade official tours at PrimeSport

Rose Bowl Game official tours at PrimeSport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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’”

Gerald Freeny elected Tournament of Roses president; theme is ‘The Melody of Life’

from reports

Gerald Freeny, President 2019 Tournament of Roses

The Tournament of Roses makes two big announcements at the board of directors meeting on the third Thursday of January: the name of the president for the upcoming Tournament of Roses and the theme he or she has chosen. The first isn’t a surprise, due to the organizational structure of the Tournament, but the second is always a pleasant revelation.

Gerald Freeny was elected President for the 2018-2019 Tournament of Roses year on Jan. 18. In addition to providing leadership for the 130th Rose Parade presented by Honda and the 105th Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, there are certain perks that come with the position. The president chooses the theme, grand marshal, and gets to wear a snazzy red jacket for the rest of his life. The theme Freeny chose, “The Melody of Life,” is one that can be lighthearted or serious and that strikes a chord in every person.

The theme for the events to be held on Jan. 1, 2019, Freeny said, “celebrates music, the universal language. Music has the power to not only bring us together but take us back to memories and moments as nothing else can. Rhythm, melody, harmony and color all come together to create the soundtrack that defines our lives.”

2019 Tournament of Roses poster

Freeny has been a volunteer member of the Tournament of Roses Association since 1988 and has been involved in the community as president of the San Gabriel chapter of NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives), the Pasadena Police Foundation Board, Pasadena Police Citizens Academy, Pasadena Rose Bowl Aquatics Board, University Club, Pasadena YMCA board, Black Support Group at Cal State LA, Urban League Board of Governors, United Way Fundraising Committee, Toast Masters, and the Pasadena NAACP. He has served on the Advisory Board of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation since 2016, and is also a member of Legacy’s Museum Committee.

Freeny attended Pasadena Christian School and John Muir High School (Class of 1978) in Pasadena, and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from California State University, Los Angeles. Freeny is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi and Gamma Zeta Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi fraternities, and Historic First Lutheran Church. He lives in Altadena with his wife, Trina, and their daughter, Erica.

We will have a conversation with Mr. Freeny early next week, and will post it on this website.

Photo gallery: Tournament of Roses 2018 Grand Marshal Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise and Pres. Lance Tibbet at the announcement of the 2018 Rose Parade Grand Marshal. Photo by LB Monteros

by Laura Berthold Monteros 

The pictures tell the story—Gary Sinise accepts the honor to serve as the Grand Marshal for the 129th Rose Parade and 104th Rose Bowl Game for Jan. 1, 2017 from Pres. Lance Tibbet. Sinise was chosen for his exceptional humanitarian work with veterans and first responders. He embodies the theme “Making a Difference.” For more about the ceremony, read “Gary Sinise, humanitarian and actor, is Grand Marshal for 2018 Rose Parade.”

Preceding the announcement, the crowd was entertained with numbers from the World War II era played by the Fabus Four and sung by the San Andreas Sisters. The group was every bit as tight as swing era bands and had the style down to a T. Here’s their rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”  We apologize for the quality of the video!

All photos are copyrighted. Contact administrator for permissions.

Gary Sinise, humanitarian and actor, is Grand Marshal for 2018 Rose Parade

Gary Sinise, Grand Marshal of the 2018 Rose Parade, shakes hand with Pres. Lance Tibbett. Photo by LB Monteros

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Media and guests were entertained by the San Andreas Sisters swing singers before the announcement, so guesses about World War II vets or actors in WWII movies, since one of the hints beforehand was about the Academy Awards, were rampant. Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet took the stage and dropped the typical hints—“selfless service,” “incredible humanitarian,” “embodiment of the theme,” which is “Making a Difference.”

“The Tournament is about many things,” he said, “…but mostly, it’s about people quietly doing good things.” People who put the “kind” in humankind.

As is the wont of the presidents, Tibbet slowly narrowed the field. This person cofounded a theater company that is a training ground for actors, writers, directors. Charitable and altruistic efforts Continue reading “Gary Sinise, humanitarian and actor, is Grand Marshal for 2018 Rose Parade”

100th Rose Queen crowned by Tournament of Roses is Isabella Marie Marez

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Isabella Marie Marez stepped up to receive her crown as the 100th Rose Queen tonight at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The Mikimoto pearl crown was placed on her head by Lance Tibbet, president of the Tournament of Roses. Queen Isabella will lead a Royal Court of six princesses as they make appearances and perform community service in the next several weeks, capped by a ride in the Rose Parade on the Queen and Court float on Jan. 1, 2018. As the 100th Rose Queen, Isabella will  hold a special place in the history of the Rose Parade.

The Rose Queen attends La Salle High School and lives in Altadena. She exemplifies the 2018 Tournament of Roses theme “Making a Difference” by her charitable work with her school, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and in the many service clubs in which she participates. She is a Youth Ministry Leader and a leadership service commissioner at La Salle.

We had a short conversation with Queen Isabella after the ceremony, and will be posting that and a gallery of the coronation event with more news about the goings-on tomorrow. Meanwhile, check out the articles on our 2018 Royal Court page.

Dole Packaged Foods presented with Sweepstakes cup for 2017 Rose Parade entry

Lance Tibbet, president of the 129th Tournament of Roses, presented the just-issued Sweepstakes cup to Dole Packaged foods for its 2017 float, “Spirit of Hawaii.” L-R, Dole Packaged Foods Pres. Brad Bartlett, VP Marketing David Spare, Fiesta Parade Floats Pres. Tim Estes, and Tibbet. All photos copyright LB Monteros

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With an unprecedented run of garnering the prestigious Tournament of Roses Sweepstakes award for six of the last seven years, Dole Packaged Foods had another first on Tuesday when the company was presented with the new silver Sweepstakes cup. The award was for the 2017 Rose Parade entry “Spirit of Hawaii,” a gorgeous tribute to the Dole relationship with that state. Lance Tibbet, president of the 129th Tournament of Roses that will be held on Jan. 1, 2018, made the presentation at DPF headquarters in Westlake Village.

Vice President of Marketing David Spare used the occasion to announce that Dole will sponsor an eighth entry in the 2018 parade, which has the theme “Making a Difference.” He said, “The theme is terrific and timely, and fits with the things Dole is doing [to help people] along the way.” The goal is always to create the most beautiful float possible, he said, praising the contribution

This Sweepstakes Trophy is the first actual cup in decades to be awarded. The Tournament of Roses logo and name of sponsor, float, and builder are on the front. On the back is a medallion of roses.
This Sweepstakes Trophy is the first actual cup in decades to be awarded. The Tournament of Roses logo and name of sponsor, float, and builder are on the front. On the back is a medallion of roses.

s of Tim Estes, president and Jim Hynd, VP and floral director of Fiesta Parade floats, as well as the Dole associates who decorate the float.

Brad Bartlett, president of Dole Packaged Foods, said he is humbled to be presented with the Sweepstakes Trophy. “We’re proud to be a part of the Tournament of Roses,” he said. “A brand is difficult to maintain over 129 years. We’re 166 years old. It fits very well with who our company is.”

A trophy in hand

Float sponsors have not been given actual trophies for many decades, so the reinstatement of the Sweepstakes cup was quite an event. The award is for “most beautiful entry, encompassing float design, floral presentation, and entertainment.” Tibbet said the Tournament decided to have a tangible trophy “because in everybody’s mind, the Sweepstakes Continue reading “Dole Packaged Foods presented with Sweepstakes cup for 2017 Rose Parade entry”