34 finalists ready for slot on 2017 Rose Parade Royal Court

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Roses for the Royal Court finalists. c. LB Monteros
Roses for the Royal Court finalists. c. LB Monteros


It was an exciting moment for 34 young ladies, finalists for the 2017 Rose Parade Royal Court, as they took their places on the steps of Tournament House in Pasadena for a group photo shoot today. Nearly 1,000 people (there were a few boys) tried out for the Court and after three rounds of interviews, 34 were chosen to participate in the final step. In just six days, on Oct. 4, seven girls will be announced as Rose Princesses. The Queen and Court Committee used several criteria to choose the finalists, including poise, speaking ability, academic achievement, and community and school involvement.

The breakdown by school is Flintridge Sacred Heart, six; Arcadia High School, five; La Cañada High School, four; John Marshall Fundamental High and Maranatha High School, three each; Mayfield Senior School, Pasadena City College, Polytechnic School, and Temple City High School, two each; Alverno High School, Blair High School, John Muir High School, La Salle High School, and South Pasadena High School, one each.

2017 Rose Parade Royal Court finalists. c. LB Monteros
2017 Rose Parade Royal Court finalists. c. LB Monteros

Top row, from left: (#617) Natalie Rose Petrosian, La Cañada High School; (#660) Elyse Juliann Reed, La Cañada High School; (#687) Dominique Noelle Pittman, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; (#727) Audrey Mariam Cameron, Blair High School; (#762) Tiffany Claire Echols, Pasadena City College. (#732) Maya Kawaguchi Khan, Arcadia High School.

Fourth row, from left: (#350) Kamela Elyse Stewart, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; (#371) Stephanie Shih, Temple City High School; (#470) Sophia Guadalupe Lopez, South Pasadena High School; (#531) Somer Nicole Tiffani Isaac, Maranatha High School; (#533) Victoria Cecilia Castellanos, Temple City High School; (#551) Grace Osher Van de Voorde, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; (#590) Anisa Keyur Patel, La Cañada High School. 

Third row, from left: (#253) Dineen Elise Tamayo, Pasadena City College; (#265) Anne Marien Bishop, Maranatha High School; (#299) Shannon Tracy Larsuel, Mayfield Senior School; (#325) Lauren Emiko Powers, Arcadia High School; (#326) Alyssa Hadlyn Chan-Evangelista, Arcadia High School; (#332) Noni Sakile Davis, Polytechnic School; (#334) Mikayla Jyvonne Nicholas O’Reggio, Mayfield Senior School; (#339) Moondera Nodeja Rabb, Alverno High School.

Second row, from left: (#121) Natalie Marye Buntich, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; (#138) Elena Lizette Flores, John Marshall Fundamental High School; (#164) Caitlin Ann Mispagel, La Cañada High School; (#172) Alexandra Ann Tighe, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; (#193) Raquel Ann Ruiz, La Salle High School; (#211) Kin Mirley Spencer, Maranatha High School; (#212) Autumn Marie Lundy, Polytechnic School.

First row, from left: (#21) Mariah LeighAnn Benn, John Marshall Fundamental High School; (#27) Mishtii Rajmohan Murari, Flintridge Preparatory School; (#42) Kennedy Diana Callaway, John Marshall Fundamental High School; (#53) Sophia Olivia Calabretta, Arcadia High School; (#85) Marissa Rose Mendez, Arcadia High School; (#114) Lauryn Camille Miller, John Muir High School.

We spoke with Kennedy Diana Callaway at the tryouts ealier this month.

A bittersweet goodbye and a fond memory of Dodgers announcer Vin Scully as Rose Parade Grand Marshal

R. Scott Jenkins, president of the 125th Tournament of Roses, and Vin Scully, legendary Dodgers announcer, at the announcement of the Grand Marshal on Sept. 5, 2013. Copyright 2013 LBM
R. Scott Jenkins, president of the 125th Tournament of Roses, and Vin Scully, legendary Dodgers announcer, at the announcement of the Grand Marshal on Sept. 5, 2013. Copyright 2013 LBM

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With Vin Scully winding down his 67-year career with the Dodgers as the premier play-by-play announcer in baseball, it’s time to reprise the articles we wrote about his long-awaited appearance as Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade. We’ve worked them together into one tribute to the Master of the Mic.

“Hi, everybody, and a pleasant Thursday to you!” Vin Scully said when he took the lectern at Tournament House on Sept. 5, 2013.  As his signature opening line, he laughed, “I just had to say that.”  The Dodger play-by-play announcer was the choice of Tournament of Roses President R. Scott Jenkins to be the 2014 Rose Parade Grand Marshal.

“The most wonderful privilege about being president of the Tournament of Roses is two things,” R. Scott Jenkins said at the announcement that LA Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully would be the 2014 Grand Marshal on Thursday.  Number one is he gets to choose the theme, “Dreams Come True,” and number two is that he gets to choose the Grand Marshal.

After turning down the gig multiple times, Scully was finally convinced to bear the honors. We caught Jenkins as he was leaving the stage and asked how he scored Scully. The TOR president came close to your reporter and whispered, “Sandy.  One word.”  Sandy is Scully’s wife.

Scully was just about as perfect a choice as one can desire for the position, especially in a year of auspicious anniversaries: the 125th Rose Parade, the 100th Rose Bowl Game, the 100th anniversary of Tournament House, and the 65th year of Dodger baseball with Vin Scully.  Like the Tournament  Continue reading “A bittersweet goodbye and a fond memory of Dodgers announcer Vin Scully as Rose Parade Grand Marshal”

Phil Rulloda, Ronnie Siegel and Carol Togneri announced as 2017 Rose Parade float judges

Singpoli won the 2016 Sweepstakes Trophy for "Maro Polo: East Meets West." Photo copyright 2016 Ramona Monteros.
Singpoli won the 2016 Sweepstakes Trophy. Photo copyright 2016 Ramona Monteros.

from The Tournament of Roses Association

The Tournament of Roses has selected PhilRulloda, Ronnie Siegel and Carol Togneri to be float judges for the 128th Rose Parade presentedby Honda. The judges will grant awards based on many criteria including creative design, floralcraftsmanship, artistic merit, computerized animation, thematic interpretation, floral and colorpresentation and dramatic impact. The Tournament of Roses will announce the award-winning floats the morning of January 2, 2017, at Tournament House.

“Our Rose Parade float judges bring uniquely diverse skills to the judging process that greatly will assist them in the challenging task of judging each of the Parade’s incredible botanic masterpieces,” said Brad Ratliff. “Each float is designed, built and decorated by individuals who leave a small but valuably personal piece of himself and herself woven into the tapestry of each floral presentation. Each member of our esteemed panel of judges understands the theme, Echoes of Success, and is distinctly qualified to understand the role that each person plays in creating these beautiful works of art.”

About the 2017 Rose Parade Float Judges

Phil Rulloda is one of America’s chief evangelists for floral design, celebrating his 54thyear as a florist – an Ambassador of Sentiment.Having amassed an incredible number of awards in national and international designcompetitions, Phil has presented more than 500 programs to tens of thousands of professionalflorists. He was the 2004 recipient of the Society of American Florists’ Tommy Bright Award inrecognition of his lifetime achievement in floral education and commentary, in 1991 he was the first recipient Continue reading “Phil Rulloda, Ronnie Siegel and Carol Togneri announced as 2017 Rose Parade float judges”

Hundreds of girls try out for the 2017 Rose Parade Royal Court. Here are a few.

2016 Rose Princesses Natalie Hernandez-Barber and Donaly Marquez in their Royal Court summer frocks, in between orientation sessions.
2016 Rose Princesses Natalie Hernandez-Barber and Donaly Marquez in their Royal Court summer frocks, in between orientation sessions.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

It’s always a treat to talk to young women who try out for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court. It’s even sweeter to catch up with those who made it and have returned to Tournament House to explain the process to the hopefuls lined up on a warm Saturday morning in September. At the tryouts on Sept. 10, Rose Princesses Natalie Hernandez-Barber and Donaly Marquez from the 2016 Court found a few minutes between the groups of girls they were orienting to speak with us.

We spoke with a dozen young ladies after they had passed through the first round of judging and taken a tour of Tournament House. The photos and a little bit about each one are in the gallery below.

In the year since they sat on the porch listening to Princesses Emily Stoker and Gabrielle Current fill them in, Natalie and Donaly have made more than 100 appearances for the Tournament of Roses, finished high school and entered college, and gained lessons  Continue reading “Hundreds of girls try out for the 2017 Rose Parade Royal Court. Here are a few.”

Tournament of Roses inspires a middle-school mystery filled with suspense and danger

"Tiara on the Terrace" launch party. Photo by Joe Alvarez for Russell Gearhart Photography Author Kristen Kittscher's book launch for her middle-grade novel The Tiara on the Terrace, at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA on Jan. 3, 2016.

Launch party for Tiara on the Terrace at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena in January. Photo by Joe Alvarez for Russell Gearhart Photography.


by Laura Berthold Monteros

Last year, just about Rose Parade time, author Kristen Kittscher came out with the second book in a series about two middle-school girls, Sophie Young and Grace Yang, who with their friend Trista Bottoms solve mysteries in their town of Luna Vista. In this case, the Rose Parade and all the hoopla that surrounds it was the inspiration for The Tiara on the Terrace. The book captures the spirit and the quirks of the Tournament of Roses in Luna Vista’s Winter Sun Festival as the heroines investigate a series of murders.

Kittscher is a Pasadenan who taught middle-school English at Westridge School for Girls for several years, so she not only loves the Rose Parade, some of her students tried out for the Court. Earlier this year, we corresponded by email and Kittscher responded to questions about her book and her experiences. Being an English teacher and a writer, her responses were so well crafted that I am presenting them as a simple Q&A.

Q. The Tiara on the Terrace is very close to the Tournament of Roses, captures its fun and intensity, but you had to reimagine some things and create others.  What was your process in doing this?

A. My process was fairly simple: I knew that the elements of the Tournament I included had to serve the story. Credibility is always a hurdle when 12-year old sleuths are investigating a potential crime: I constantly have to find believable ways to put intrepid Young & Yang at the center of the action and the adults in the background. As a result, I decided to make the “Winter Sun Festival” a smaller town parade that was a shadow of its former self: With national media crawling all over town, it’d be hard to believe they wouldn’t be investigating along with my sleuths! I also decided it would be much more fun to have the mystery play out not only in the float barns, but also the “Ridley” mansion. It also helped me separate the kids from their families—and from pesky technology/cell phones, which are mystery-killers! I also needed to centralize the action to help keep the story tighter, so the float barns are part of the “Ridley Mansion” grounds.

Q. In researching this book, did you go to Tournament of Roses events, such as the tryouts, announcement of the Royal Court, tour of the Tournament House, or talk to folks in the Association?

Continue reading “Tournament of Roses inspires a middle-school mystery filled with suspense and danger”

Playhouse District light installation at Pasadena Presbyterian Church


by Laura Berthold Monteros 


Located at the heart of the city, Pasadena Presbyterian Church is a perfect site for an art installation. As part of the Pasadena Playhouse District public art initiative, sculptors Megan Mueller and Samuel Scharf unveiled “Between Violet and Green” on Friday, Aug. 26. The temporary installation is a display of 360 lights on the front lawn of the church at 585 E. Colorado St. at Madison Avenue. It will remain in place through October.

The idea, Scharf told me, is to reflect the California sunlight by caching the power during the day with solar cells and playing it back at night when the lights come on. The rectangular 5LBMboxes with the lights atop were hand painted in shades of blue, and the color perspective changes as one walks past. The design uses the natural contours of the lawn to draw the eye from the massive bell tower through the rows of lights to the door of the church.

“People were coming up during the work and were very excited,” Scharf said. When the display is dismantled, he said, “The lights will be donated or used for another installation.” The photos show the installation just before and after dusk.

The Playhouse District, centered around the famous Pasadena Playhouse that gave many Hollywood stars their start, is filled with public art displays. Photos and locations can be found on their website, http://www.playhousedistrict.org/initiatives/public-art.


Brad Ratliff, Tournament of Roses 2017 president, shares the echoes of his success

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Braad Ratliff in his brown Spalding saddleshoes at Tournament House. Photo by LB Monteros.
Brad Ratliff in his brown Spalding saddleshoes at Tournament House. Photo by LB Monteros.

“Local boy makes good” is an old adage that implies a person has made a success of himself.  To Brad Ratliff, Tournament of Roses Association president for the 2016-2017 term, success for an individual includes the people and organizations—echoes—who have aided or inspired him.  His choice of a theme for the 2017 Rose Parade, “Echoes of Success,” celebrates those people who help to form each person.  The Rose Examiner talked with him about those echoes in his life in an interview at Tournament House.

He said that as he rose up the ranks of the Tournament to oversee the 128th Rose Parade and 103 Rose Bowl Game, he knew that his choice of theme would always include success, but “The echoes part came quite circumstantially.”  A UCLA graduate, he “lived and breathed John Wooden,”  the legendary basketball coach.  He quoted Wooden: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

“Wooden’s definition of success makes it unique to everyone,” he said.  “Teachers, nurses, parents, PTA…those are the echoes.”  It was his own mother who inspired the complete phrase.  He and his wife Susan purchased a paving brick to honor his mother as part of the Rose Bowl Legacy campaign. The bricks form a rose on the plaza in front of the stadium.  Her brick is inscribed “Shari Ratliff, Her Life Echoes Success. 1999, 2017.”  As his family discussed and rejected various themes, “Echoes of Success” emerged.  “It pays tribute to Mom,” he said.

The influence of his father, Dick E. Ratliff, who served as Tournament president for the 1999 events, reverberates, too.  The theme the elder Ratliff chose was “Echoes of the Century,” reflecting the closing of the 20th century.  Ratliff shared, “He’s been a great mentor and a good, good friend to me.  I admired him my entire life…. I really want this to be Continue reading “Brad Ratliff, Tournament of Roses 2017 president, shares the echoes of his success”

There is no such thing as the Rose BOWL Parade!

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Western Asset combined the Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade in this 2010 float. It had elements of the stadium and posters from ostrich races to football games in floragraphs around a silver bowl.
Western Asset combined the Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade in this 2010 float with elements of the stadium and posters from ostrich races to football games around a silver bowl.


Sportswriters seem to be the worst offenders. The Tournament of Roses Parade is routinely renamed as “the Rose Bowl Parade.” Maybe that’s because for them, the Rose Bowl Game held in Pasadena is the center of the New Year’s celebration. There’s history to that; The Granddaddy of Them All, as it’s called, was the first post-season football bowl game. But the parade predates the game by 12 years and the sporting event was created to promote the parade, not the other way around.

In other words, there’s a parade and there’s a bowl, but there is no such thing as the Rose Bowl Parade.

The Tournament of Roses Parade was first held on Jan. 1, 1890. The game, then called the East-West Game, was first played on Jan. 1, 1902 between the University of Michigan and Stanford University. When the Rose Bowl Stadium was ready for football in 1923, the game took on the name of the venue.

While it’s also correct, and more common, to refer to the nearly six-mile-long pageant of flowers as the Rose Parade, it is never correct to call it the Rose Bowl Parade.  There simply is no such animal in Pasadena.

The mistake is somewhat understandable.  After all, the Floridian counterpart, the Orange Bowl Game, began in 1935 and the Orange Bowl Parade did not start until 1940.  It was tied to the game, and Continue reading “There is no such thing as the Rose BOWL Parade!”

Never on Sunday for the Tournament of Roses

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The 128th Rose Parade and January-2-2017103rd Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, Calif. will not be held on New Year’s Day in 2017.  Why?  Because it’s a Sunday, and the Tournament of Roses Association just doesn’t do parades on Sundays. Instead, the Tournament of Roses will be held on Monday, Jan. 2 for the 19th time. The “Never on Sunday Rule” may seem like a blue law—an ordinance designed to enforce the religious practice of Sunday as a day of rest—but it actually makes a lot of sense in Pasadena.  Here’s a little history, and some geography to boot.

The tradition began in 1893 for the fourth Rose Parade. This was the first time the parade fell on a Sunday, and the Valley Hunt Club, which ran the parade, realized it might cause some havoc to run a parade along the main drag when a whole lot of people were in church. Colorado Blvd., the longest stretch of the Rose Parade, is lined with churches large and small and has been for well more than a century.

The problem wasn’t the worshipers, though one might suspect that the organizers would have preferred they stand outside and watch the parade and the clergy might have preferred that the parade-goers be in church. Continue reading “Never on Sunday for the Tournament of Roses”

Rose Parade tickets and parking for 2017 Tournament of Roses

Rose phone tixby Laura Berthold Monteros

The theme of the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade is “Echoes of Success,” which could be a reminder that to be successful in getting there, parade-goers should mark their calendars for Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.  Everyone knows that “America’s New Year Celebration” is held on Jan. 1, right?  Usually, but not when the date falls on a Sunday. Nothing to worry about, though, because Sharp Seating Company has the same great seats for sale.

The official grandstand seating provider for the Rose Parade, Sharp sells tickets in person, over the phone at (626) 795-4171, or online for the parade, parking, and other events. The sales office is located at 737 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; enter from the rear parking lot off Meridith Ave.  Grandstand seats and parking are also available beginning in the fall at Pasadena Presbyterian Church, on the northwest corner of Colorado Blvd. and Madison Ave., (626) 793-2191, ext. 353.

Prices at Sharp Seating range from $48 to $95, depending on the location on the route. Seats on the north and west, or “off-camera,” sides of the route are generally less expensive.  Sharp now divides the Rose Parade route into five sections:

  • Area One (between the start on S. Orange Grove and Colorado Blvd. at Fair Oaks), $85-$95. This is the prime location where media are stationed and within walking distance of the Rose Bowl.  Please note that the $85 seats are along the formation area on Orange Grove.  Some of the groups may not be performing in that section, but people seated in the grandstands will see all the entries.
  • Area Two (on Colorado Blvd. between Fair Oaks and Lake Avenues), $68.  Guests may also preorder a pancake breakfast for $8 from First United Methodist Church on the Sharp website.
  • Area Three (on Colorado Blvd. between Lake and Hill Avenues), $58-$68
  • Area Four (on Colorado Blvd. between Hill and Allen Avenues), $50-$68
  • Area Five (on Colorado Blvd. between Allen Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd.), $50-$68

Portable restrooms for Sharp patrons are located behind the grandstands.  Pasadena Presbyterian offers indoor restrooms and a continental breakfast is included in the price.  Rose Parade programs can be ordered in advance from Sharp Seating, the Pasadena Museum of History gift shop and the Tournament of Roses, or picked up onsite from Pasadena Presbyterian Church and various supermarkets and drugstores in the Pasadena and Altadena area a few weeks before the parade.


Both Sharp Seating and Pasadena Presbyterian Church sell reserved parking, as well as Easy Parking Service (626) 286-7576 and the City of Pasadena (626) 744-6470.  Easy Parking Service provides free shuttles to the Rose Bowl from the parking lot.  Overnight RV parking is also available.  Closer to parade time, some merchants list parking on Craigslist.