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

pasadena-city-logoby Laura Berthold Monteros

The Tournament of Roses Parade is watched in-person by hundreds of thousands, and the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game are seen on television and over the internet by tens of millions of people around the world. For many, it wouldn’t be New Year’s without America’s New Year Celebration.

The City of Pasadena, incorporated in 1886 by a group of well-to-do folks from the Midwest, has been hosting the Tournament of Roses since 1890.  It was originally a way to show off the lovely climate in Southern California to people suffering through winter snows, and was perhaps as much a real estate venture as a celebration. Its popularity over the decades has caused many to refer to Pasadena as “The City of Roses” or even “Rose City.” Numerous businesses are named “Rose City” this or that—veterinarians, pediatricians, dentists, counselors, contractors, even a laundromat and a high school. But folks who drive around a bit are likely to see more signs with the moniker “Crown City.”

This is because the true City of Roses is Portland, Oregon, which boasts an ideal climate for growing roses and holds its own Rose Festival in June. Pasadena, California, is “The Crown City.”  The name is ubiquitous around town, and yep, Continue reading “What’s in a nickname? How Pasadena California is known to locals and the world”

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

Dolphins on the Cunard float at the 2011 Showcase of Floats
Cunard float dolphins at 2011 Showcase of Floats

by Laura Berthold Monteros

There are two maxims about the Rose Parade that everyone in Pasadena knows: There’s never a parade on a Sunday, and it doesn’t rain on the parade.  Some say that the sunshiny days the Tournament of Roses has enjoyed are God smiling on the parade due to the “Never on Sunday” rule, which has held since the first time Jan. 1 fell on a Sunday in 1893 and the parade was moved to Jan. 2.  The second—well, 10 rainy days in a century-and-a-quarter isn’t a bad batting average.

What about the upcoming Rose Parade? Southern California weather forecasts are notoriously inaccurate, but here’s what we can say. It will be cold overnight and into the morning until sunup, when it might be  mild, warm, or hot. We’ve known it to shower right up to step-off at 8 a.m., when the skies open up and the California sunshine pours through, and we’ve walked around the post-parade Showcase of Floats in the rain.

The odds of rain? About one in 12, but that figure doesn’t mean much. The rainy years were closer together in the beginning, at two every 12 years: 1895, 1899, 1906, 1910, 1916, 1922, 1934, 1937. Note that the first one was only two years after the Never on Sunday rule went into effect. Then came a break of 18 years to 1955, when Chief Justice Earl Warren was the Grand Marshal, and a hiatus of a whopping 51 years to 2006, when Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was Grand Marshal. That has led Continue reading “Will it rain on my Rose Parade? The rules: No Sundays, water themes, or Supreme Court Justices equals no rain”

‘Canines with Courage’ honors dogs who save the lives of troops at war

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

I originally posted this article in 2012. I’m reposting it today, in honor of our four-legged veterans and the men and women who trained and worked them. Be sure to check out the album below.

 

Natural Balance Pet Foods is known for Rose Parade floats that push the envelope—world’s longest, world’s heaviest—with dogs who skateboard, skimboard, surf, and ski board.  The 2013 Rose Parade will see something very different from Natural Balance.

“Canines with Courage” honors military working dogs who have often gone to war and saved the lives of American troops.  The float, built by Fiesta Parade Floats, is a replica of the Military Working Dogs National Monument that will be erected at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in late 2013.  Currently the statues are touring the county, and will be on display at the post-Rose Parade Showcase of Floats.

On Friday, we caught up with a few of the riders who will be on “Canines with Courage” on Jan. 1, 2013.

Robert Harr served in the US Navy Underwater Demolition Team that was attached to the Marines—“It’s called the SEALS today,” he said—and handled the most decorated dog of World War II.  The dogs operated behind enemy lines in the Pacific Theater, sniffing out the enemy.  The operations were highly secret.  “We never knew where we were going,” Harr said.

“The dog saved 150 lives,” he said, and served on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  “His name was Rex, but after Iwo Jima and Okinawa, people started calling him ‘that Oki dog.’”  He lived to be 16 and met President Harry S. Truman at one point.  “The dog didn’t like Truman,” Harr laughed.

Robert Harr will be riding on the float with two other handlers we spoke with, Gy. Sgt. Christopher Willingham and Cpl. Juan Rodriguez (Marines).  Both handled the 2012 Hero Dog Lucca, a German Shepherd/Malinois mix.  Lucca is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Her record is spotless; no troops were lost or injured on her watch. Continue reading “‘Canines with Courage’ honors dogs who save the lives of troops at war”

California high schoolers learn CPR with help from Union Bank and American Heart Association

Union Bank Crenshaw High School Student-Run Branch Manager Vernell Taylor, singer/songwriter/dancer Ilisa Juried, Abraham Lincoln High School Principal Jose Torres, Union Bank Student-Run Branch Manager Wendy Estrada, and Los Angeles-Central Coast Regional President Leticia Aguilar; unveil the Union Bank and American Heart Association float dedicated to CPR training after the donation of CPR training kits to Lincoln and Crenshaw High Schools. (left to right)
Union Bank Crenshaw High School Student-Run Branch Manager Vernell Taylor, singer/songwriter/dancer Ilisa Juried, Abraham Lincoln High School Principal Jose Torres, Union Bank Student-Run Branch Manager Wendy Estrada, and Los Angeles-Central Coast Regional President Leticia Aguilar unveil the Union Bank and American Heart Association float dedicated to CPR training after the donation of CPR training kits to Lincoln and Crenshaw High Schools. (left to right)

By Laura Berthold Monteros

For the second year in a row, Union Bank and the American Heart Association Western States Affiliate are teaming up to sponsor a float with a message in the Tournament of Roses Parade. “Keep the Beat Alive,” designed by Michelle Lofthouse and built by Phoenix Decorating Company for the 2017 Rose Parade on Jan. 1, will promote teaching high school students to perform CPR. The float will highlight youth who actually saved a life by administering CPR and the person they saved, and will honor the future generations of lifesavers who will learn CPR through new California legislation. More than 200,000 students will be trained every year.

High school students learn to perform hands-only CPR with kits donated by Union Bank. Courtesy Union Bank
High school students learn to perform hands-only CPR with kits donated by Union Bank. Courtesy Union Bank

The float was unveiled last month at a ceremony at Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles, and Union Bank made a donation of eight CPR in Schools training kits to Lincoln and Crenshaw High School. The event also featured a CPR training lesson for students and announced a CPR dance team, comprised of students from both schools, to appear in the Rose Parade along with the float.

In September, 2016, California passed Assembly Bill 1719 that requires hands-only CPR training Continue reading “California high schoolers learn CPR with help from Union Bank and American Heart Association”

Meet Bobby Bell, Ricky Ervins, Tommy Prothro, Art Spander at Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Copyright LB Monteros
Copyright LB Monteros

The Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Jan. 1, 2017 gives fans the opportunity to meet the inductees to the Class of 2016 the day before the Granddaddy of Them All. Limited tickets are available from Sharp Seating, (626) 795-4171 at $40 for reserved seating with lunch and $10 general admission. A food truck will be on site. The event is at noon in Rose Bowl Stadium Lot K tent.

The inductees are local hero from John Muir High School and University of Southern California, Ricky Ervins; Bobby Bell of University of Minnesota; Tommy Prothro, Duke player and Oregon State University coach; and Art Spander, award-winning journalist who has covered 53 Rose Bowl Games. More details of their careers here. The Rose Bowl Game takes place on Jan. 2, 2017.

Do the Granddaddy of Them All: Rose Bowl Game tickets and how-to information for 2017

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Tickets and packages for the 103rd Rose Bowl Game on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 are on sale at PrimeSport. Since the game is a “contractual sellout,” meaning the majority of tickets are reserved for the two participating universities for their fans, tickets are hard to come by.  Other tickets are reserved for Pasadena City Council members to distribute to their constituents, and for a few members of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and celebrities.  It’s not easy to get tickets, but it can be done.

Pasadena residents

The Tournament of Roses offers Pasadena residents age 18 and older an opportunity to purchase two tickets each for the Rose Bowl Game one day only, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2015 at 9 a.m. They are sold at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium box office, 300 E. Green Street.  No line-ups will be allowed prior to 7 a.m. Random numbered armbands are issued from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Purchasers must prove residency with a valid California driver’s license or California Identification card with a Pasadena address.  No other form of ID will be accepted.   Cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover will be accepted, but checks will not. Tickets are $162 ($150 plus $12 box office fees) each and are limited to two per person.  For More Information, Continue reading “Do the Granddaddy of Them All: Rose Bowl Game tickets and how-to information for 2017”

Greg Louganis, Janet Evans, Allyson Felix are 2017 Rose Parade Grand Marshals

The three Grand Marshals for the 2017 Rose Parade, Greg Louganis, Janet Evans, and Allyson Felix are happy to be on stage with Sam the Olympic Eagle from the 1984 Los Angeles games. The announcement took place on Nov. 3, 2016. All photos copyright 2016 Laura Berthold Monteros

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

This morning at Tournament House in Pasadena, the biggest secret in town was revealed. Pres. Brad Ratliff announced that the Grand Marshals of the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade are Allyson Felix, Greg Louganis, and Janet Evans. All three are native Southern Californians who are world famous, multiple Olympic medal winners in multiple years, and world record holders. And all three serve on the LA 2024 Athletes’ Advisory Commission, ensuring that Olympians and Paralympians are involved in all aspects of the plans to bring the Olympic Games to Los Angeles in 2024.

Be sure to check out the album at the end of this article!

Ratliff, who chose the theme “Echoes of Success” for 2017, opened the ceremony by asking, “How cool is it that we’re at the house of the guy who built the World Series champion team?” Tournament House belonged to the William Wrigley family before it was donated to the City of Pasadena for use as the Tournament of Roses headquarters. He continued by rattling off numbers that can be considered indicators of success: 128 Rose Parades, 103 Rose Bowl Games, 935 volunteers and 37 staff members, 120 Grand Marshals, two of whom were puppets.

“All are successful in their own stories, even if their story is narrated by Kermit The Frog or Charlie McCarthy,” Ratliff said. He noted that it’s sometimes difficult to find a Grand Marshal who fits the theme of the year, “but not this year.” Indeed, he found three who are personally successful and whose success echoes in the many people they have inspired. Each swept through the golden curtains draping the front entryway and gave a short speech, and each mentioned that they grew up with the Rose Parade as a family tradition. Rose Queen Victoria Castellanos handed each a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses.  Continue reading “Greg Louganis, Janet Evans, Allyson Felix are 2017 Rose Parade Grand Marshals”

Building Rose Parade floats: The tools of the trade

Photo copyright 2012 Ramona Monteros

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

A Tournament of Roses Parade float is the epitome of teamwork.

It starts with a sit-down discussion and ends with a unique and stunning yet ephemeral work of art.  A float for the Rose Parade is a combination of a sponsor’s idea, a designer’s concept, an engineer’s calculations, a mechanic’s skill. When they are done, artists in metal, wood, sculpture, paint, and floral design bring in their talents.

Sponsors may have a detailed idea of what they would like on a float, or no idea at all. It’s the job of the float builder and designer to create a concept that will not only be stunningly beautiful or charmingly whimsical, but will work. Considerations include reflecting the theme of the parade, presenting the message of the sponsor in the few seconds a float passes by viewers, weight, height, whether or not there will be animation, and cost. Engineers design systems and mechanics design the engine that will get the float from the barn to post-parade and back.

Be sure to check out the photo gallery at the end of this article!

Metalworkers bend rods and weld them into skeletal sculptures. Screeners put the skin on the skeletons.  Wooden components are built. The float is then sprayed with a fabric cocooning material and foam, which is sculpted into shape. Small sculpted details such as hands are also added. In a sort of paint-by-numbers scheme, areas are lined out and the names of the colors penciled in to match the artist’s rendering. The float is painted and the floral designer, Continue reading “Building Rose Parade floats: The tools of the trade”

Want to put flowers on a Rose Parade float? Here are some tips

decoratingby Laura Berthold Monteros

Building a Rose Parade float is an expensive process for sponsors, and would not be affordable without volunteers who dedicate from a few to scores of hours working on them—volunteers who do not mind getting glue in their hair, cramped fingers from snipping strawflowers, or ruining an old pair of jeans.  Some volunteers even give up holiday shopping on weekends in December to prepare and glue dry materials.

Every inch of the float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds, grass, bark, sod, or even fruits and vegetables for it to be eligible for a trophy. Volunteers take a great deal of pride in their work and thrill at seeing the float they pasted mums and gerbera on go down the parade route.  Generally, dry decoration takes place on Saturdays in December and fresh materials go on during Deco Week between Christmas and Dec. 31, when the floats are judged.

Readers who are interested in volunteering should check on the websites of the float builders to see if there are still open slots.  Many are already booked up, but sometimes they need extra help for the big push.  Prospective volunteers can also show up at the decorating site and ask; however, there is no guarantee that a builder will take drop-ins and keep in mind they are very busy during Deco Week. Continue reading “Want to put flowers on a Rose Parade float? Here are some tips”

Make a real difference for the homeless with Real Change meters

real-changePasadena drivers are used to feeding the meter to secure a parking place, but now people—pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike—can feed a meter and help end homelessness.  The Real Change Movement puts bright orange meters decorated with yellow happy faces in public places which collect change and credit transactions to provide homes for the homeless in Pasadena. Pasadena and homeless advocates throughout the city have been encouraging people not to give money to panhandlers, but to support local non-profits that provide real assistance instead.  Real Change meters make it easy. There’s a map app on the website to find the one closest to you.

The Real Change Movement was the first initiative of its kind within Los Angeles County.  It includes a public outreach campaign that tells residents, merchants and visitors about the movement and raises awareness about homelessness. The movement is a collaborative effort involving the City of Pasadena, Flintridge Center, County of Los Angeles, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, East West Bank, IPS Group, Pasadena City College, Art Center College of Design, and Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.

Art Center students were involved with the project from the beginning.  They came up with the idea and campaign strategy and designed the logo and color scheme.  The Pasadena In Focus newsletter for July and August, 2014 reported, “The students wanted to inspire the community to think about happiness in a more socially active way and to view the act of giving as an uplifting, positive experience.”