Hope and happiness make for a good Tournament. Our interview with Pres. Laura Farber

Laura V. Farber in the parlor of Tournament House

by Laura Berthold Monteros

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.”

The official 2020 Tournament of Roses pin is circular to represent that hope is never ending

“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.)

Each block letter has an embedded illustration: band, equestrian, float, Rose Bowl Stadium

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.’”

New TOR Pres. Laura Farber brings ‘The Power of Hope’ to 2020

Laura Farber, courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses Assn.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association on Jan. 17, 2019 announced the election of Laura Farber as the president of the 2020 Tournament. Farber is the firsrt Latina hold the office. She will oversee the 131st Rose Parade and the 106th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2010. The president drives the vision for all the events in a cycle, centered around the chosen theme.

“The Power of Hope,” a theme chosen by Farber and her husband Tomás Lopez, was selected to encourage creativity in the entries, including floats, bands, and equestrians.

“With hope – anything, in fact, everything is possible,” Farber said. “Hope is more than simply the possibility of fulfillment. Hope is dignity and respect, joy and happiness, aspiration and achievement. Hope never, ever quits. Through hope, we can aspire to be our best and in turn inspire those around us to reach higher.”

Readers can see a video of her announcement from her new office.

Farber was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She and Lopez have two children, Christopher and Jessica. Her hobbies include music, tennis, and reading. She earned her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, with departmental highest honors, in 1987 from University of California, Los Angeles and her juris doctor, cum laude, in 1990 from Georgetown University.

Tournament of Roses 2020, courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses Assn.

Farber has a long list of credentials, academically, in business, and with the Tournament and other volunteer organizations. She has been a white suiter since 1993 and was elected to the Executive Committee in 2012. Committees that she has served include Decorating Places, Formation Area, Judging, and Membership Development.

A resident of South Pasadena, she has been on the site council for Marengo Elementary School and an officer of the South Pasadena Middle School Booster Club. She has also been on the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation Advisory Board, Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation Museum Committee, and the board of directors of the non-profit Clazzical Notes and the YWCA.

Farber is a partner in the Pasadena law firm of Hahn & Hahn, practicing civil litigation; a member of the American Bar Association, serving as the State Delegate for California in the House of Delegates; chair of the Latin America and Caribbean Initiative Council; a member of the Rule of Law Initiative Board and member of the Steering Committee of the Nominating Committee. She is a former member of the Board of Governors representing the State of California and past chair of the Young Lawyers Division, and has served as President of the Barristers, the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s young lawyers division.

 

Pamela Knapp will be 2027 Tournament of Roses President

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Pamela Knapp of La Cañada Flintridge was elected as a vice president on the Tournament of Roses Executive Committee on Jan. 17, 2019. This puts her in line to be the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association’s president in 2027, the fifth woman to hold that position. She will oversee the 138th Rose Parade and 113th Rose Bowl Game.

Knapp’s family history goes back to the very first Tournament of Roses in 1890, when her great-grandfather James Carroll Sheppard was captain of the winning Tug-of-War team from Duarte. Another great-grandfather, Moses Sarkis Pashgian, was Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade in 1915.

She first served as a chair in 2010 and a director in 2012. Committees she has chaired Membership Development, Equestrian, Float Construction, Formation Area, and Float Entries, and served as vice chair of Music, University Entertainment, and Equestrian Committees. Her community work has included serving on the board of directors of the La Cañada Flintridge Sister Cities Association, multiple terms as council president and PTA president with the La Cañada Unified School District, and the National Charity League. Knapp and her husband, Don, have three children, Meghan, Christopher, and Justin.

Knapp is retired from the banking industry where she held the position of vice president of First Interstate Bank. She graduated from University of Southern California in 1984 with a B.S. Business Administration. While at USC, she was a member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority and attended Cambridge University, Cambridge, England.

Executive Committee officers

In addition, the following officers were elected to serve with Knapp on the 14-member Executive Committee: Robert B. Miller, Executive Vice President; Amy Wainscott, Treasurer; Alex Aghajanian, Secretary. Gerald Freeny, President of the 2019 Tournament of Roses, serves as Past President. Re-elected to the Executive Committee as vice presidents are Ed Morales, Mark Leavens, and Terry Madigan.  The five appointed at-large members are Zabrina Alibadbad, Teresa Chaure, Tiffany Gardner, James Jones, and Herman Quispe. Farber also announced the election of a new member to the Tournament of Roses Board of Directors, Loren Klock.

Photo courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association

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.

Tournament of Roses Pres. Lance Tibbet is aiming on ‘Making a Difference’ in 2018

2018 Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet in the living room of Tournament House.
2018 Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet in the living room of Tournament House.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

“This theme is something near and dear to my heart,” incoming Tournament of Roses President Lance M. Tibbet told The Rose Examiner on Wednesday. We met at Tournament House for a conversation about the vision he has for his 2017-2018 tenure as the leader of the 129th New Year’s celebration. The theme, “Making a Difference,” reflects Tibbet’s optimism and commitment to kindness and selfless service, about doing something without reservation simply because it is the right thing to do.

Selecting a theme is usually a family process, and it expresses something about the president’s world view.  “Making a Difference” evolved out of a Tibbet family tradition, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” together every Christmas season. The movie reveals how the thoughtfulness and kindness of one person can change his community for the better. Tibbet said the title wasn’t going to work for the Rose Parade theme though, because “everyone doesn’t have a wonderful life.” But “Each one of us, without cost, can make a difference. We all have that ability.”

That’s what the Tournament of Roses is about, 935 people Continue reading “Tournament of Roses Pres. Lance Tibbet is aiming on ‘Making a Difference’ in 2018”