Photo: Sierra Madre float barn displays name signs from award-winning floats
Updated April 30, 2019 to add Sierra Madre Rose Float Association
by Laura Berthold Monteros
When the six self-built float organizations meet for the annual get-together and potluck, the talk isn’t of beating the others out for Rose Parade trophies. It’s a time to reveal designs for floats in the upcoming Rose Parade that have been approved by the Tournament of Roses, as well as a place for camaraderie among a rare breed of peopl who still build their own flower-covered floats to represent their communities. Ideas, techniques, and food—plenty of it and all delicious—are shared.
The Rose Examiner attended last Saturday’s event, hosted by Sierra Madre Rose Float Association in their float barn in Sierra Vista Park. All six associations had representatives there: Burbank Tournament of Roses Association, Cal Poly Universities Rose Float, Downey Rose Float Association, La Cañada Flintridge Rose Float Association, South Pasadena Rose Float Association, and of course Sierra Madre. The Cal Poly team was represented by alumni, because it was the weekend for students from both Pomona and San Luis Obispo to get together and plan for the parade.
The theme for the 131st Tournament of Roses is “The Power of Hope.” Each float entry must reflect that in some way. The designs, chosen from among scores of submissions, are presented to the Tournament of Roses for approval on theme draft day in February.
Self-built floats are usually humorous, though Downey often creates scenes simply for the beauty, such as 2016’s “Exploring the Everglades.” The 2020 float, “Wings of Hope,” features orgami cranes flying over a Japanese garden. The concept was inspired by a project at East Middle School that, like the students in Sadako and the Thousand Cranes, had a goal of folding 1,000 paper cranes to be given to patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Burbank also has a more serious theme this year. “Rise Up” depicts a phoenix rising from the ashes, a reminder of the fires that tore through areas of Northern California last year. President Ginny Barnett said she had friends in the almost completely destroyed city of Paradise. The phoenix represents the hope those caught up in the fires have for the future. She said this design is unusual for a Burbank float, which is usually about fun.
The 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage will be honored by South Pasadena with “Victory at Last.” The victory was the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. A gigantic straw hat decorated with feathers, flowers, and a campaign button dominates the float in a star-spangled celebration of a watershed event in American history.
“We’re trying to be as non-political as possible,” the presenter said. The Rose Examiner hopes that votes for women is no longer a political issue!
La Cañada Flintridge, whose floats are always highly animated, went to the birds with “Dodo Bird Flight School.” Penguins and an emu are also enrolled, but it’s doubtful they will have much success launching off the giant blimp. The emu, strapped to a da Vinci screw on a satellite float, may have the best shot.
Sierra Madre had a model of their float, “Ka La Hiki Ola” (The Dawning of a New Day) on display and will produce the rendering later. There will be a waterfall at the rear, and lots of tikis, and birds rising off the float.
The design draft for Cal Poly Universities was not yet ready, but we look forward to seeing it in the future. Visit All Things Rose Parade on Facebook to get updates on the Tournament of Roses.
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Opening show at 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade. Photo copyright LB Monteros.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
The 131st Tournament of Roses Parade steps off on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, but readers can start making plans now. With a theme of “The Power of Hope,” there will be plenty of inspiration to begin a New Year. In our recent conversation, Pres. Laura Farber emphasized increasing florals and promised the Rose Parade “will not be Macy’s.”
Here’s the information needed to get a place in the grandstands for you, and a place in a lot for your car.
We’ll be posting information on all the Tournament of Roses events and how to do them between now and December. Subscribe to TheRoseExaminer by filling in the box in the upper left to get email notifications.
The official grandstand seating provider for the Rose Parade is Sharp Seating Company. Sharp sells tickets in person, over the phone at (626) 795-0896, via email, 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 summer at Pasadena Presbyterian Church, on the northwest corner of Colorado Blvd. and Madison Ave., (626) 793-2191.
Prices at Sharp Seating range from $60 to $110, depending on the location on the route. Seats on the north and west, or “off-camera,” sides of the route are generally less expensive. Portable restrooms for Sharp patrons are located behind the grandstands. Pasadena Presbyterian Church offers indoor restrooms and a continental breakfast 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 purchased on parade day from Pasadena Presbyterian Church and vendors on the route. Various supermarkets and drugstores in the area also sell programs few weeks before the parade.
Reserved parking is available from Sharp Seating, 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. Other lots can be found through a Google search. Closer to parade time, some merchants list reserved parking on Craigslist.
“The Power of Hope” is the theme for the 2020 Tournament of Roses. The central events, the 131st Rose Parade and 106th Rose Bowl Game, are held on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. Subscribe to “The Rose Examiner” to get news and articles throughout the year.
There are days of events preceding and following the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game. Pre-parade float decorating and post-parade Showcase of Floats, Bandfest, and Equestfest add to the excitement of America’s New Year Celebration. While tickets can be purchased at most venues, it’s easy to buy them in advance from Sharp Seating Company. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone at (626) 795-4171, and in person at 737 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena (enter in the rear parking lot off Meridith Ave.). Children ages five and under are free at all events except Equestfest VIP seating.
Decorating Places (pre-parade float viewing) presented by Giti Tires, Dec. 28-31, 2019, $15 Deco Week is second only the Rose Parade in the excitement it generates in Pasadena. Floats in the final stages of decoration are on view for visitors to see how thousands of volunteers hustle to get every last seed or flower on the floats in preparation for final judging. The ticket price depends on the day of attendance. Times vary by day; check the website for details.
Bandfest presented by Remo, $15 per performance, Dec. 29, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. and Dec. 30 at 9:30 a.m. & 2 p.m.
In addition to marching six miles in the Rose Parade, the bands put on field shows at Pasadena City College in the days before the parade. There are three shows with different bands performing at each; the schedule will be released later in the year. These shows often sell out before the event, so make sure to order tickets ahead of time. Each show requires separate admission.
Equestfest presented by Wells Fargo, Dec. 29, 2019 at noon (venue opens at 10 a.m.), $15
Horse lovers get the opportunity to see the equestrian units perform in the Los Angeles Equestrian Center arena before they ride in the Rose Parade. Trick riding and reenactments are part of the fun. Merchandise and food are on sale at the venue and the horses can be viewed in the warm-up ring and stables. Parking costs $10 (paid at the venue) and is on an unpaved field or across the street for overflow. Early arrival is recommended to ensure parking inside the venue.
Equestfest Limited VIP Reserved Seating Package, $40
Included in this package are a preferred reserved seat, early VIP entrance, an official souvenir seat cushion, a goody bag with other surprises. For this package, guests of all ages require a paid ticket
Post Parade: A Showcase of Floats, Jan. 1, 2020 from 1-5 p.m. and Jan. 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., $15 See the floats in all their glory, but standing still! Ticket price includes Park-N-Ride shuttles from two locations in Pasadena. Senior citizens and the handicapped can enter as early as 7 a.m. on Jan. 2. White Suiters and builders are on hand to offer details about the floats and flowering, and the animation on the floats is often running. There are food and merchandise vendors onsite and free water from the City of Pasadena. Ticket booths will sell admission tickets at Park-N-Ride locations and at the venue on Sierra Madre Blvd. Ticket sales end at 3 p.m. both days.
Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Dec. 31, 2019, 12:30-2 p.m., $40
Enjoy a luncheon with the inductees into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Class of 2019. It’s held at the Rose Bowl Stadium in the Lot K Tent “The Power of Hope” is the theme for the 2020 Tournament of Roses. The central events, the 131st Rose Parade and 106th Rose Bowl Game, are held on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. Subscribe to “The Rose Examiner” to get news and articles throughout the year.
Every new president of the Tournament of Roses is enthusiastic when talking about his or her parade, but it would be hard to beat the outright energy and joy of Laura Farber. Even when presented with concerns about the future““““` from long-time parade fans, she maintained her exuberance.
Farber took the helm of the 2020 Tournament of Roses on Jan. 17. She brings her personal vision to the 131st Rose Parade, 106th Rose Bowl Game, and all the attendant events that draw hundreds of thousands of people to the Pasadena area to share in America’s New Year Celebration. She is enthusiastic about new developments in the celebration, but loves the traditions, as well.
“I think that we have to respect tradition, but balance it with innovation,” she said. “We strive in everything we do” to strike that balance.
To that end, in addition to the longstanding committees, the Tournament now has a social media committee, an innovation team, and the brand new Festival Committee to plan and implement events.
“We want to enhance our demographic,” she said, with events that will “attract my kids.” She noted that television is being replaced by streaming for the younger demos. The Funny or Die live stream of the Rose Parade with Will Farrell and Molly Shannon was very successful, she said. It incorporated live chat to engage watchers.
It won’t be Macy’s
A concern that has often been expressed to The Rose Examiner is that increased emphasis on entertainment may lead to a parade that emulates the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“Have no fear. We will not be Macy’s,” Farber insisted. “Macy’s and the Rose Parade are the most diametrically opposed [parades] I have ever seen.” The Macy’s entertainment is for the cameras, and then the floats come, she said. There is a single broadcaster, who can control every element., whereas the Rose Parade has several broadcasters.
“It’s apples and oranges…. We have no desire to turn into Macy’s.”
“We don’t want the parade of 20 years ago,” she said, but “for traditionalists—we have something for you. It’s your Rose Parade.”
Entertainment or floats?
Something longtime fans will appreciate is how often Farber mentioned florals for floats. “Increase those florals,” she stated several times. Dry materials have distinct uses, but she said, “I’d like to see more floral and less seeds.” She would be “thrilled” to have more floral elements, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be entertainment.
“I do believe in having interactive floats and entertainment. It’s just how it comes together.” She mentioned Earth, Wind and Fire atop the 2018 Forum float, who brought parade-goers to their feet. “They made people happy. People were jumping up and down.” Pauses in the parade for performances are few and are carefully considered, she noted. They are factored into the time frame for the parade, which is two hours on the dot for broadcast.
Speaking of floats…
One event locals and visitors have looked forward to for decades is visiting the float barns during Deco Week, the last few days before the Rose Parade. The floats are in the final stages of flowering at that point, and the volunteers are scurrying around to get finished in time for judging. With no float barns left in Pasadena since Phoenix Decorating company joined the other two commercial builders, Fiesta Parade Floats and AES 15 miles to the east, Deco Week has been scaled down.
For the 2019 parade, AES moved its floats to Rosemont Pavilion, the float barn in the Rose Bowl area, along with Cal Poly Universities and FTD decorated cars. Some viewers expressed disappointment in the limited offerings for the $15 admission price. We asked if having shuttles to the other float barns might help.
Farber said that the Tournament is going to look at shuttles, but can’t make promises. They are also trying to make Rosemont more of an event. This year, AES put on Sip & Savor, a tasting event, next to the barn.
“It’s a good deal, pay for the floats and get admission to Sip & Savor. It was packed, the vendors were happy,” she said. The feedback was good, she said, and there were activities for children, as well. (Sampling tickets were about $2.50 each.)
The Power of Hope
Farber was surprised to learn that the word “hope” had never been used in a Tournament of Roses theme before she chose “The Power of Hope” for the 2020 celebration. It is a word that has deep meaning for her, and runs throughout her life.
Farber’s parents came to the States with her when she was a young girl. They were students in Argentina during the time of the “Dirty War.” There was a lack of stability, she said, and students were the most vocal critics of the military government. Civil rights were abrogated.
“It was not a place where you felt comfortable that you could stay,” she said. One of her parents’ professors knew someone at University of California Santa Barbara, and her family was able to immigrate. Her parents, both biochemists, found a place at UCSB.
“It takes a lot to leave everything and everyone you know,” she said.
Her husband, Tomás Lopez, had similar experiences. His family came to New York from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The US offered hope, opportunity, the ability to make a new life.
“That kind of motivated this theme. It’s a unifying theme at a time when we need to be unified,” she said. The New Year is a “time to turn over a new leaf.” Hope is life, she shared. It’s respect, joy, happiness. It’s inspirational, motivational, and aspirational.
“Nobody can ever take it away. There’s something powerful about it,” she said. “The Power of Hope.”
Telling other stories
Farber was animated when the subject of marching bands came up. There are more bands from Latin America than ever before, an all-female band from Copenhagen that she is excited about, and many first-year bands.
She rattled of some of the names: West Harrison High School, Miss., which was founded after Hurricane Katrina; Southern University, Baton Rouge, La.; the rare band from upstate New York; from Houston, Texas, Pearland High School, which served as a shelter during Hurricane Harvey; units from Greendale, Wis. and Alhambra, Calif.; and a Moreno Valley, Calif. Title I high school.
The Music Committee hosts a music night to show the videos of applicant bands 18 months prior to the parade. The videos present the music and the story that each unit has to tell.
“The quality is off the charts,” Farber said, referencing both the performances and the stories.
Part of the community
Farber is proud that the Tournament of Roses Association is part of the Pasadena community year-round, not just for a few days before and after Jan. 1. Farber reads books to elementary school students and will participate in the Black History and Latino Heritage parades. The Association and Tournament of Roses Foundation support local public schools with money, volunteers, and events.
“The Power of Hope” applies to the game as well, Farber said. The Rose Bowl Game Keith Jackson Postgraduate Scholarship awards $10,000 each to one student from the Big Ten Conference and one student from the Pac-12 Conference. The students do not have to be on the football players. They will shadow the Rose Bowl Game staff and will be presented with their award at Lawry’s Beef Bowl.
The weather report
It’s always sunny for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game, except when it isn’t. But for the previous 130 parades, it has only rained on 10 parades. There are certain superstitions that go along with that—never have a parade on Sunday, don’t ask a Supreme Court Justice to be the Grand Marshal, and don’t choose a theme with any reference to water—but there seems to be only one person responsible.
“The Executive VP is in charge of weather,” Farber informed us. The Executive Vice President becomes the President for the following year. She told 2019 Pres. Gerald Freeny that she gave him a good parade, and it seems she expects 2021 Pres. Robert Miller to provide lovely weather for hers.
Ultimately, Laura Farber hopes that the 131st Tournament of Roses, with the parade, game, and many events, will bring the “joy and happiness of the New Year. We are ‘America’s New Year Celebration.’”
John Schulte emailed The Rose Examiner to give an update on the fire that stalled the Chinese American Heritage Foundation float, “Harmony Through Union,” at the start of the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade. Schulte is one of the directors of the float, and his daughter, Blythe Abigail Su-Ren Schulte wrote and sang the theme song.
Schulte writes, “Since it’s been a month, I felt it was time to shed light on some of the folks who were involved in helping to safely resolve the fire that erupted inside the float — most specifically, John Strube, our driver.”
He included a link to an article he wrote, which is studded with shots of the float and riders. An additional link at the end of the article connects to more photos and background information on the riders, many of whom are descendants of the original Transcontinental Railroad workers.
After the fire, the Chinese American Heritage Foundation float was towed the length of the 2019 Rose Parade, still looking beautiful. Photo copyright LB Monteros 2019
Fire due to transmission fluid spray
All riders were safely evacuated
Fiesta Parade Floats president Tim Estes tells what happened
by Laura Berthold Monteros
Like the sturdy immigrants the Chinese American Heritage Foundation (CAHF) float honored, “Harmony Through Union” made it down the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade route on Tuesday, despite initial difficulties. The float celebrated the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The Rose Examiner communicated with Fiesta Parade Floats president Tim Estes to get details on what happened when the 90-foot float, designed by Mike Abboud, had a fiery mishap.
When unexpected things happen, minutes twist around in a timey-wimey way. Sometimes it takes photos and time stamps to put things right. Using our photos, here is how I saw it from the scaffolding on the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado.
Descriptions are in the photo captions in the gallery below.
The float, moving north on Orange Grove Blvd. at 9:42, had just crossed Green St., one block before the turn onto Colorado Blvd. The smokestacks on the locomotives were emitting steam. Thirty seconds later, photos show a small puff of smoke on the right side, at the same time that colorful streamers were shot into the air.
I was not in a position to see flames, but Estes confirmed reports that there was a small fire, caused by a spray of transmission fluid from a fitting. There was a lot of smoke. Tournament of Roses quickly ran to the float, the riders and outwalkers evacuated, and no one was injured. Evacuation of the 26 riders took approximately 40 seconds. From first puff to dissipation of the smoke was nearly four minutes. [Note: TRE originally reported 10 riders; updated to 26 per a reader.]
All floats have fire extinguishers, which the driver, observer, and other personnel on the float can quickly grab. During technical tests, there are practice fire drills. Riders must be able to climb to the ground from the float in no more than 45 seconds. All floats have tow bars that slide into a compartment under the float.
Response from Tim Estes to The Rose Examiner
I contacted Estes via email on Wednesday with a few questions and requests for clarification. He quickly responded, tempering his comments with the caveat that the investigation is in its early stages and he does not want to speculate on unknowns. He wrote,
“Have done some preliminary investigation along with the Tournament of Roses mechanical inspectors, so do not have a full report to make until we get more time to check things out. This will occur when the Tournament of Roses Inspectors can be attending/participating in our joint investigation. We will focus on two items:
1. To the best of our joint effort, come to a joint conclusion on what occurred to the best of joint abilities.
2. Based on our joint conclusion, determine if any new procedures should occur to avoid a reoccurrence on any float that is in the Rose Parade.”
I asked him about some of the scuttlebutt I had heard. My queries (in regular type) and his responses (in bold) are lightly edited for clarity.
A white suiter told me the hydraulic line broke, so the float lost brakes and steering. No hydraulic line broke. The float never lost brakes or steering.
I also read it was a transmission fluid leak. The transmission itself did not leak and no transmission lines broke. It preliminarily appears that a mist of transmission fluid sprayed from a fitting on the external transmission cooler appeared to land on the exhaust pipe and created the smoke, but we will further check this out over the next few days.
There was a small fire, which I didn’t see, due to the smoke. Everyone got off the float safely. Yes that occurred and glad no one got hurt.
The tow truck couldn’t tow the float. The tow truck from Jan’s Towing towed the entire, intact float, to the post parade area to be on display along with all of the other floats.
The second part of the float was hinged to the first and did not have a separate tow bar. The second part of the float was connected to the first part of the float with a tow hitch, just like a truck towing a big RV trailer. Since the second part of the float was connected to the first part of the float with a tow hitch, it would not have a tow bar required.
The float building only began two weeks ago. This had zero impact on what occurred. The float was built on the float chassis that was inspected by the Tournament of Rose Mechanical inspectors on Oct. 13. They inspect numerous items which include the engine, transmission and brakes. There was nothing indicated on the inspection report of anything wrong with the engine, transmission or transmission oil cooler. As parts of the float got built, they were installed on the pre-inspected float chassis.
There were some problems getting it built. I had no problems building the float. I find it interesting that no one spoke to me or asked me any questions on the construction of the float. Instead it appears that people not in the know are making up comments or are speculating/guessing.
I also posed some questions of my own.
How much did this float weigh? When I was at Fiesta on Friday, it looked to me like it had a lot of heavy steel framing, but Fiesta has built floats for Joey Herrick that had to be much heavier. The float weighed approximately 45,000 pounds which is about the weight of an average float and the float had 12 wheels. The dog surfing float we did and will recall, weighed in at 142,000 pounds and had 26 wheels. Over my many years, I have built dozen of floats that have weighed more than 45,000 pounds.
How many tow trucks were needed? One tow truck towed the float to the Post Parade viewing area. It was from Jan’s Towing and I want to go on record that they did a great job and the driver (Steve) was great in his operation of his tow truck!
Usually, when a float breaks down, it is quickly towed to the side to allow other units to pass. The CAHF float was not as easy to move as a smaller, one-part float. The trailing half was jackknifed, perhaps to make more room. Once the area was cleared and it was safe to proceed, the units began coming through, though not in program order.
The first was, ironically, the Gold Rush Fire Brigade, which had been slotted in behind the CAHF entry. Next came the Lincoln-Way Marching Band, but by then, it was 9:48 a.m. The broadcast of the parade must end at precisely 10 a.m., so the Tournament gave the go-ahead to the Wells Fargo closing show. Wells Fargo is a long-time presenting sponsor of the Tournament of Roses.
Coming up behind, in order, were South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association “Three Little Birds,” DigAlert “Making It Safe for All,” and the Royal Swedish Cadet Band. These three entries did not make it into the national broadcast, but readers can see them on KTLA.com. There doesn’t seem to be footage of the CAHF float; if a reader has access to video, please email me at LauraBMonteros@theroseexaminer.com
Several readers asked if there will be a fine for Fiesta Parade Floats. The Tournament does levy fines for breakdowns, from $10,000 to $80,000. Estes addresses it in this article by Tracy Bloom of KTLA.
This article focusing on an unhappy incident cannot do justice to this beautiful float and the rich history it commemorates. The Rose Examiner will follow up with those details in a later article.
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The Tournament of Roses announced the winners of the 24 float awards for the 2019 Rose Parade to the media at shortly after 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. The chart of winners is below, but here are some observations before you peruse it.
Sweepstakes was won by The UPS Store, with a giant, toe-dancing ostrich. It brings the trophy back to Fiesta Parade Floats, after Paradiso Parade Floats took it home last year. It’s fitting that though Paradiso is no more, former owner Charles Meier was the designer for The UPS Store. His company was the first one in more than two decades to break Fiesta’s Sweepstakes streak with floats sponsored by Singpoli in 2016 and 2018.
Once again, Meier turned in a hundred-percent win percentage, with The UPS Store (Sweepstakes), Donate Life (Judges), and Easterseals (Leishman Public Spirit) floats. His designs were built by Fiesta Parade Floats.
Fitting also was the Theme award going to Shriners Hospitals for Children “Fezzy’s Garden of Hope and Healing.” Tournament Pres. Gerald Freeny chose the theme “The Melody of Life,” because through his health struggles and two transplants, music had brought him healing. That, and because his wife and daughter insisted on it.
A word on the International award: Readers may recall that The Rose Examiner has sometimes carped about this award, because there is usually only one float competing, China Airlines. This year, however, the float was so spectacular in design and entertainment, with dancers and drummers and brilliant florals, that is not only deserves the International award, but surely would have won an award in any case.
FTD is the official floral partner of the Tournament of Roses. The judges were Preston Bailey (who designed the new Royal Court float), Michael E. Berry, and Kimberly Oldis.
Here are the award totals: Fiesta Parade Floats, 9; Phoenix Decorating Company, 8; AES, 2; self-built, 5 (out of six organizations). The designer with the most wins was Michelle Lofthouse with 6 of 10 competing designs. Meier had the highest percentage.
2019 FLOAT AWARDS PRESENTED BY FTD
Most beautiful entry: encompassing float design, floral presentation and entertainment
The UPS Store, Inc.
Books Keep Us On Our Toes
Most outstanding depiction of national treasures and traditions
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
Most outstanding use of animation
Burbank Tournament of Roses Association
Stompin’ Good Time
Bob Hope Humor
Most whimsical and amusing float
Spend Your Life Living
Crown City Innovator
Most outstanding use of imagination, innovation and technology
Trader Joe’s Company
Ride Captain Ride
Most outstanding artistic design and use of floral and non-floral
Sierra Madre Rose Float Association
Most extraordinary float
Cal Poly Universities
Far Out Frequencies
Most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination
Western Asset Management Company
Most outstanding float built and decorated by volunteers from a
community or organization
La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses
Tree Frog Night!
Most outstanding depiction of life in California
Big Bear Rose Parade Association
Most outstanding creative concept and float design
Stella Rosa Wines
Taste The Magic featuring
Kool & The Gang
Most outstanding float from outside the United States
Rhythm of Taiwan
Most outstanding presentation of color and color harmony through
United Sikh Mission
A Divine Melody Resonates In
Most outstanding float design and dramatic impact
Rhythm of the Heart
Leishman Public Spirit
Most outstanding floral presentation from a non-commercial
Celebrating Easterseals 100
Years of Disability Services
Most outstanding float from a participating city
South Pasadena Tournament of Roses
Three Little Birds
Most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials
Underground Service Alert of Southern
Most outstanding use and presentation of flowers
City of Hope
Harmony of Hope
Most outstanding floral presentation among entries 35 feet and under
City of Alhambra
Home Tweet Home
Most outstanding presentation of roses
Farmers Insurance Group
A Carousel of Experience
Most outstanding display of showmanship and entertainment
Universal Pictures & Dreamworks Animation presents How To Train Your Dragon
How to Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World
Most outstanding presentation of the Rose Parade Theme
Shriners Hospitals for Children
Fezzy’s Garden of Hope and
Most outstanding floral presentation of the Rose Parade Theme among
floats 35 feet and under in length
City of Torrance/ Torrance Rose Float
The Power of Music
Most outstanding display of floral presentation, float design and
The Rose Examiner dropped in on the three float barns last Friday and Saturday to see the progress of the creations at the commercial builders and to talk to some of the folks doing the decorating. The 130th Tournament of Roses Parade happens on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, so the decorators—almost all volunteers—were busy cutting statice, powdering rice, gluing on flowers, and filling vials.
Be sure to check out the gallery below to see the progress all those volunteers were making.
Making the rounds at Phoenix Decorating Company
Our trip started off with a bang at Phoenix Decorating Company in Irwindale. We had just walked in the door when a sound like an I-beam hitting the floor split the air. Those cavernous float barns echo, so it turned out it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. There had been a small explosion under the Trader Joe’s float. The folks at Phoenix reacted immediately, with crew chiefs hurrying the decorators off the scaffolding and away from the float.
“Go back to your floats, go back to your floats!” the other volunteers were ordered. Everyone complied, because after all, those floats had to be covered with flowers in less than four days.
We asked a man who had been waiting to work on the Kiwanis float if it was scary. “It certainly was,” he said. Another man suggested that the sulphur-scented smoke we noticed might well be just dust and glue, and we returned to our tour of the floats
At the Farmers Insurance float, “A Carousel of Experience,” we met Ryan Young, a Philadelphia transplant. He’s only been in Pasadena for a few months, and already he was fully into the experience of decorating a float.
“I didn’t realize the scale,” he said, comparing the TV version and the real thing. “It’s neat to see it coming together.”
Young works in procurement for Farmers, which is a good match for his role on the float. He said his job is to be a runner, getting whatever anyone working on the float needs.
At the United Sikh Mission float, “A Divine Melody Resonates in All,” we ran into creative director Minu Singh, whom we spoke with last year. The float features a giant rabab, which she said was the first Sikh instrument. It was used by Guru Nanak to spread his message of the oneness of all though his poems and songs.
“Everything in our holy book is music,” Singh said. “Every time we congregate, it’s about singing.” She spoke of an “eternal cosmic symphony.” “Every bit of creation is part of the symphony,” she said.
A few blocks north at Fiesta Parade Floats
We got to Fiesta Parade Floats around lunch time, and most of the volunteers were up on the floats or scaffolds so we stuck to taking pictures. We did notice that there were a couple towering humans looking down from the decks, though.
Lono, the Hawaiian god of music and peace and the deity associated with the fertile lands of the Hawaiian Islands stands at the front of “Rhythms of Paradise,” the Dole Packaged Foods float. Stella Rosa lets the genie out of the (wine) bottle with “Taste of Magic.” (Others are on the American Armenian float at Phoenix and AES’ 24 Hour Fitness float.)
“Harmony Through Union,” the first entry from the Chinese American Heritage Foundation, doesn’t have a whole human, but it does have two spectacularly huge arms, one holding a mallet and the other a golden spike to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the historic meeting of the eastern and western portions of the Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869, and to celebrate the contributions of immigrants.
Previously used by Phoenix Decorating Company, Rosemont Pavilion now holds the AES floats for final decorating, as well as Cal Poly Universities and the FTD vehicle decorating. We were able to strike up a couple conversations at the floats. Check back after the Rose Parade for more about the four vehicles that will carry the celebrities in the parade.
At the Cal Poly float, “Far Out Frequencies,” we were given a California Grown sticker, which indicates that 85 percent of the floral material on the float was grown in California. Denise Godfrey was there with her daughter Emma McGregor. Their family business, Olive Hill Greenhouses, was founded by Godfrey’s parents in 1973. They have been supplying indoor plants to Cal Poly for about four years.
At the Chipotle Mexican Grill float, “Cultivate a Better World,” we found Russ Wimmer and Aida Bueno busily mixing spices to cover the float. And that is mostly what will cover the float. Wimmer told us that Chipotle insisted that only the 51 ingredients used at their restaurants can be used on the floats.
Red is created with a mixture of fresh chili pepper flakes and chili powder. The wood is brown rice instead of the usual paper bark, and juniper berries, oregano, lemon leaf, and corn husks are seen throughout the float. Baskets laid out around the deck like a vegetable stand will be filled with fresh produce. The only roses will be a red edging around the bottom and white spray roses tucked into a garland of red chili peppers. The Tournament of Roses granted a variance to allow a wheelchair lift at the back to remain uncovered.
More Than a Parade is the title of a book by Michael K. Riffey, who was Tournament of Roses president in 2004. “America’s New Year Celebration” got started with the Rose Parade in 1890, but nowadays there are many events and activities to keep folks busy between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3. The grand events on Jan. 1, 2019 are 130th Rose Parade and 105th Rose Bowl Game, of course. This guide has information and tips on the how-to of the parade, game, and other activities. Check out our 2019 Tournament of Roses main page for links to our complete calendar and articles on events, ticketing, and floats. With a little planning, your visit to Pasadena should sail along like—well, like a Rose Parade float!
Dress casually and wear comfortable shoes. There will be a lot of walking and standing.
The only thing predictable about Southern California weather is its unpredictability. It might be cold in the morning and evening, and hot during the day. Layers are a good idea. So is a weather app!
Travel light—carry only what you need for the place you’re going. For all venues, we recommend keeping money or a wallet in a front pocket and limiting valuables to cash, ID, car keys, and tissues.
Carry a bottle of water.
Accessibility—Pasadena is continually working to increase accessibility for the handicapped and those with sight or hearing difficulties. Questions can be directed to the Accessibility Issues Coordinator at (626) 744-4782 or email@example.com.
Get your tickets in advance for pre-parade and post-parade events from Sharp Seating Company. They are also available at the venues, but the lines are long and some of the events sell out.
Grandstand tickets for the Rose Parade must be purchased in advance, but there is always room to stand for free.
The Pasadena Convention and Visitor Bureau hotline at (877) 793-9911 is a good resource for folks on the go.
Plan your driving route and an alternate ahead of time. Traffic is heavier during the days before and after the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.
Many streets are closed to all vehicles except those of residents on New Year’s Day, as indicated on this map from the City of Pasadena. Freeway ramp closures should be posted by Caltrans next week, but they will likely be the same as 2018, noted in this Caltrans PDF.
The train servicing Pasadena is the Gold Line; extra trains are added for the Rose Parade. From the west (North Hollywood and Glendale), the 501 Orange Line bus stops at the Del Mar Gold Line station.
Pasadena Transit goes to all the venues within the city limits, but schedules and stops may change in the days leading up to the Rose Parade. There are no Pasadena Transit buses on New Year’s Day.
Metro Bike Share is no longer available in Pasadena..
Decorating Places (pre-parade float viewing), Dec. 28-31 at Rosemont Pavilion in the Rose Bowl area, is a great way to see the final floral touches being applied to the huge constructions.
Sip and Savor (food and activities), Dec. 28-30 on the Jackie Robinson Field behind Rosemont Pavilion. Prices vary.
Live on Green is a free event at the Pasadena Convention Center, Dec. 29-31 starting at 10 a.m. There are activities, music, food, exhibits, and demonstrations for all ages. Parking is available in Convention Center garage (expensive) or at meters on the streets (1-2 hours only). Pasadena Transit Route 10 stops a block to the north.
Equestfest on Dec. 29 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center shows off the skills of the equestrian groups in the Rose Parade. Food and concessions are available on site, and visitors can tour the barns. The 501 Mero Bus is the only public transportation, and the closest stop is about a mile-and-a-half away. Parking in unpaved lots is sold at the venue.
Bandfest has three field shows on Dec. 29 & 30 featuring the bands that march in the Rose Parade at Pasadena City College. Visitors will be in full sun all day, so sunblock and water are musts. Parking is free, and food and concessions are available. Pasadena Transit Routes 10 & 60 will get you there.
Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Dec. 31 at 12:30 p.m. in Rose Bowl Lot K, is an opportunity to enjoy a luncheon with the inductees into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Class of 2018. Parking is free in the lots surrounding the stadium, or take Pasadena Transit Route 51 or 52.
Rose Bowl Bash, Dec. 30 & 31 in Bloc Plaza at Hope & 7th Street, Downtown Los Angeles. this family event is free and is located near the 7th Street Metro Station.
Public Tailgate, Jan. 1, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Lot 1A at the Rose Bowl. The event is free. Contact the Rose Bowl Stadium at (626) 577-3100 or at www.rosebowlstadium.com for more information.
A Showcase of Floats, Jan. 1 & 2, is the best way to see the floats up close and personal in all their grandeur. There is a lot of walking and standing and almost no shade, so even in cool weather, it can feel quite warm. White Suiters and builders are on hand to offer details about the floats and flowering, and the animation on self-built floats is often running. There are food and merchandise vendors on site and free water from the City of Pasadena. Park-N-Ride shuttles are available, but there are also several lots in the area that sell parking to benefit schools and churches. Free street parking is also available.
THE ROSE PARADE
Parade route closures
The Pasadena Police Department announced that it will continue the early Rose Parade route closure from last year. Closures are indicated on this map from the City of Pasadena. Freeway ramp closures should be posted by Caltrans next week, but they will likely be the same as 2019, noted in this Caltrans PDF.
Driving:Bring a map or use GPS, as some streets and freeway ramps will be closed. Try to stay a half mile or more above or below the parade route for as long as possible, and allow at least three times as much time travel as you normally would.
Parking:In addition to commercial parking vendors, there are plenty of spaces available from churches, businesses, and schools in the vicinity. Check out Craigslist Los Angeles for merchants selling reserved parking. Park on the same side of the route that you are coming from to avoid having to cross Colorado Blvd. in a car. Street parking is available for free if you don’t mind walking three-quarters or a mile or more, and the no-overnight-parking rule in Pasadena is suspended within a certain distance of the parade.
Public transportation: Metro Gold Line has several stops within walking distance of the parade. West to east, these stations are Del Mar, Memorial Park, Lake Avenue, and Allen Avenue. Metro runs additional trains and more frequent Gold Line service from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on parade day.
When to get there and where to sit
The parade starts on Orange Grove just south of Colorado Blvd. promptly at 8 a.m. and takes about two hours to get to the end of the route on Sierra Madre Blvd. Grandstands provide the assurance of a reserved seat and a place to sit; the vendor will let purchasers know when to arrive. Parade-goers who don’t mind standing can usually find a good spot up to an hour or two before the parade arrives, especially further east on the route. Viewing is best from the south, or “camera side” of Colorado Blvd.
Be sure to look up just before the parade starts, to catch the B2 bomber flying over from west to east!
Take a tote bag to stash snacks, beverages and the layers you shed. Keep money or your wallet in a front pocket and limit valuables to cash, ID, car keys, and tissues. Food, beverages and souvenirs are sold along the parade route.
Who: Adults and children with adults. No one under the age of 18 may stay overnight on the street without a parent or guardian. Curfew is in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
What to bring: Bring enough layers to keep warm, including a sleeping bag. Chairs and small professionally made barbeques (such as hibachis) that stand at least one foot off the ground are allowed. Tents, couches, ladders, scaffolding, boxes, alcoholic beverages, and bonfires or open fires are prohibited.
When & Where: Chairs and bags can be placed beginning at noon the day before the parade. No one is allowed to stand, sit, or have gear in the street until 11 p.m.
Don’t rope off any public area, including the sidewalk, curb, gutter, and street; sell items without a permit; throw anything onto the parade route at any time, including tortillas, marshmallows, and spray string; walk in the street; or block the sidewalk so people cannot easily pass.
Know the players
An official Rose Parade program is well worth the price. They are available on the street, online from Sharp Seating, in stores around town, or at the Pasadena Museum of History.
When the parade is over
Getting home from the Rose Parade can take even longer than getting there. Some people grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant or pack a lunch to eat in their cars while they wait for the traffic to disperse or the lines at the train station to go down. Please remember to put trash in the receptacles provided.
Audio and Braille
A free audio tour of the floats can be downloaded to a cell phone by calling (626) 321-4768. A special version of the Rose Parade program guide is available in Braille by calling (800) BRAILLE.
ROSE BOWL GAME
Rose Bowl Stadium parking lots open at 4 a.m.
Public Tailgate begins at 8 a.m.
Gates open at 10 a.m.
Pre-game activities in the stadium begin at 1:00 p.m.
Game starts at 1:30 p.m.
No matter how you go, allow plenty of time. Traffic will be extremely heavy.
Parking is $40 per car at the Rose Bowl. There is no reserved parking and no in-and-out privileges, but tickets for parking and tailgating can be purchased in advance at https://www.parkjockey.com/rose-bowl
Parking is $45 per car at the Parsons lot in Old Pasadena at Union Street and De Lacey Avenue, with entrances off of Walnut Street and Holly Street in Pasadena. Reserved parking can be purchased in advance through LAZ Parking. Overnight parking and bus and RV parking are also available. Call LAZ Parking at (626) 578-1705 for further details.
By rail, take the Gold Line to the Memorial Park Station.
By taxi, ride-share, or to be dropped off, the designated drop-off, pick-up and taxi zone is on Holly Street between Fair Oaks Avenue and Arroyo Parkway. There are no provisions for drop-offs and pick-ups at the stadium.
A free shuttle at the Parsons lot on Fair Oaks and Holly takes visitors to the stadium whether they arrive by foot, rail, taxi, or car. The shuttle runs continuously from 10:00 a.m. until approximately two hours after the end of the game.
Please read the Game Safety Guidelines carefully. They are very specific and designed to ensure everyone has a good time. Briefly, they are
Everyone and every bag will be searched.
Only approved bags will be allowed; details and illustrations are on the site.
Strollers are allowed but will have to be checked with an usher or at the checked items tent.
The Rose Bowl abides by the Southern California Fan Code of Conduct.
Most events take place during Deco Week, the last furious flurry of activity that gets the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game ready for the big day. Information on these events is this article.
FRIDAY, DEC. 28, 2018
Decorating Places (pre-parade float viewing), 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rosemont Pavilion, 700 Seco St., Pasadena. See the floats in the final stages of preparation for the Rose Parade. Tickets can be purchased online at Sharp Seating Company for $15. People interested in working on the floats should contact the various float builders.
Sip and Savor (food and activities), 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the Jackie Robinson Field behind Rosemont Pavilion. Prices vary.
SATURDAY, DEC. 29, 2018
Decorating Places (pre-parade float viewing), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rosemont Pavilion, 700 Seco St., Pasadena. Live on Green, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena. Free activities, exhibits, and shows for all ages.
Equestfest, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the show beginning at high noon at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Tickets sold on site or online at Sharp Seating for $15 per person (age 5 and under free).
Sip and Savor (food and activities), 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the Jackie Robinson Field behind Rosemont Pavilion. Prices vary.
Bandfest, 1:30 p.m. at Pasadena City College. Parking is free; tickets on site or online at Sharp Seating for $15 per person (age 5 and under free).
SUNDAY, DEC. 30, 2018
Bandfest, 9:30 a.m. at Pasadena City College.
Live on Green, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena.
Rose Bowl Bash, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Bloc Plaza at Hope & 7th Street, Downtown Los Angeles. Free family event.
Decorating Places (pre-parade float viewing), 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rosemont Pavilion, 700 Seco St., Pasadena and Rose Float Plaza South, 5400 Irwindale Ave., Irwindale.
Sip and Savor (food and activities), 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the Jackie Robinson Field behind Rosemont Pavilion. Prices vary.
Bandfest, 2 p.m. at Pasadena City College.
MONDAY, DEC. 31, 2018
Live on Green, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena.
Rose Bowl Bash, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Bloc Plaza at Hope & 7th Street, Downtown Los Angeles. Free family event.
Decorating Places (pre-parade float viewing), 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rosemont Pavilion, 700 Seco St., Pasadena.
Rose Bowl Game Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in Rose Bowl Stadium Lot K. Tickets are available from Sharp Seating for $40 and include lunch.
TUESDAY, JAN. 1, 2019
130th Tournament of Roses Parade, promptly at 8 a.m., Colorado Blvd. between Orange Grove and Sierra Madre. Tickets can be purchased from Sharp Seating. Television coverage is on KTLA (live broadcast has no commercials), ABC, Hallmark Channel, NBC, RFD-TV, Univision, and internationally.
Public Tailgate, 8 a.m. t0 1 p.m. on Jan. 1 in Lot 1A at the Rose Bowl. The event is free. Contact the Rose Bowl Stadium at (626) 577-3100 or at www.rosebowlstadium.com for more information.
Showcase of Floats, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards by Victory Park. Tickets on site or from Sharp Seating, $15 per person (age 5 and under free) including Park-N-Ride fare. Street parking is free or paid in local lots. Park-N-Ride shuttles are available at Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd.
105th Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, 1 p.m. at the Rose Bowl. Television coverage is exclusively on ESPN.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 2, 2019
Showcase of Floats, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards by Victory Park. Gates open for seniors and disabled visitors at 7 a.m. Tickets on site or from Sharp Seating, $15 per person (age 5 and under free) including Park-N-Ride fare. Street parking is free or paid in local lots. Park-N-Ride shuttles are available at Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd.