The biggest celebrities of them all: the 2020 Tournament of Roses Royal Court. L-R, Rose Queen Camille Kennedy, Rose Princesses Emilie Risha, Reese Rosental Saporito, Mia Thorsen, Michael Wilkins, Rukan Saif, Cole Fox.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
At the Tournament of Roses Parade, the real celebrities are the gorgeous floral creations that float along the parade route on New Year’s Day. The 131st Rose Parade, held on Jan. 1, 2020, was no exception. But that doesn’t mean there are no human celebrities! Riding along Colorado Blvd. in flower-bedecked antique vehicles is a tradition for the people that the current president chooses to represent the theme she has chosen, this year, Pres. Laura Farber chose “The Power of Hope.”
You can read more about them by exploring the 2020 Tournament of Roses page on this website. You can see them, nestled in the seats of beautiful vehicles and waving to the crowds, in the gallery below. Information about the cars is in the captions.
Los Lobos and Alejandro Aranda will perform in the 2020 Rose Parade Grand Finale
by Laura Berthold Monteros
Wells Fargo expands its sponsorship of Tournament of Roses activities with “Where Flowers and Football Meet,” a rousing closing show at the 131st Tournament of Roses Parade that brings together Los Lobos, Alejandro Aranda, and the Rose Parade to Rose Bowl football toss from 2019; and “Beyond the Flowers: The Path to Pasadena,” a video storytelling platform that presents video memories from Rose Parade fans. The storytelling platform is up now. The parade takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020 at 8 a.m.
Straight from East LA is legendary rock band Los Lobos; known for their hit single “La Bamba,” the spirited song that held the number one spot in nine countries. The band has racked up three Grammy wins and earned a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award honor.
Los Lobos welcomes the new kid on the block, Alejandro Aranda (known to many by his new moniker “Scarypoolparty”). Scarypoolparty has more than 80 million social media views for singles “Tonight,” “Cholo Love,” and “Diamonds.” Fresh off his runner-up stint on American Idol, the Pomona, Calif. native joins Los Lobos performing a mashup of Los Lobos classics,
including “La Bamba” and “Come On” while looping in some of Scarypoolparty’s own music including “Tonight.”
The program order is
Alejandro Aranda (Scarypoolparty)
Chino Hills Dance Team
To punctuate the Grand Finale theme, “Where Flowers and Football Meet,” a surprise celebrity guest will throw a team-branded football directly from the parade route that will magically soar to the Rose Bowl Stadium and be caught by another notable personality. The passer and receiver are a secret; watch for the surprise reveal.
“Beyond the Flowers: The Path to Pasadena” offers the opportunity for Rose Parade participants, volunteers, builders, fans, and organizations to celebrate and share their passion for the Rose Parade by submitting brief video testimonials. Selected videos will be posted to Beyond the Flowers, a new, featured section on the Tournament’s website, and shared widely via Tournament, Wells Fargo, and participants’ social media channels with the hashtag #WFBeyondTheFlowers.
“Our greatest priority at Wells Fargo is to help people succeed financially and build better lives,” said David Galasso, Wells Fargo’s lead region president for Greater California. “As we rejoice in one of America’s New Year’s traditions, we are proud to join the Tournament of Roses in ushering in a new decade and celebrating the hope that uplifts and inspires our customers and communities every day.”
Beyond the Flowers (#WFBeyondTheFlowers) video submissions are encouraged to be brief, energetic and offer personal insights, such as “What does America’s New Year Celebration mean to you?” “Why is participating in the Rose Parade so important to you?” “Why do you look forward to the parade year after year?” For video specifications, submission details and selection criteria re on the site.
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Rose Princesses Rukah Saif, Mia Thorsen, Emilie Risha, Reese Rosental Saporito, Michael Wilkins, Camille Kennedy, and Cole Fox are introduced by KTLA News anchor Lynette Romero
by Laura Berthold Monteros
On the patio of the famed Pasadena Playhouse, gathered friends, family, Tournament of Roses members, and media bustle in anticipation of one of the most exciting annual events in the city. Inside, after the chatter dies down, the 102nd Rose Queen will be announced. Chosen from seven young women on the Tournament of Roses 2020 Royal Court, the queen will preside over the 131st Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2020. But who will it be?
The story is really in the pictures in the gallery below, so be sure to take a look and read the captions to learn more about the women of the Tournament of Roses Royal Court.
Amid servers carrying plates of hors d’oeuvres, the music of The Mariachi Divas, and snapping cameras, we were able to identify the parents (the dads wear white rose boutonnieres) and talk with a few. They had lovely memories of their daughters, and were happy to share with The Rose Examiner. For more about the Royal Court, check out the Royal Court page on this website.
ON THE PATIO
Princess Rukah Saif must have set the record for the family member who traveled the farthest. Her grandmother, Shamsun Nahar, flew all the way from Bangladesh and just arrived a few days earlier. Rukah’s mother, Rumana Rashid, said her daughter had been going to the Rose Parade since she was a child perched on her father’s shoulders.
“She enjoyed it through her whole youth,” Rashid said. She described Rukah as quiet and very kindhearted. “She is our only child. She grew up with us.”
Her mother and father, Saif Haroon, were graduate students—she in molecular biology and he in civil engineering—when Rukah was born. She was still a preschooler when they moved to California, and has been to the parade very year since. She even marched with the Arcadia High School Band in one and helped to decorate a float.
Princess Michael Wilkins—“Mike” to her family and friends—is also an only child. He father, Overton Wilkins, said, “She’s my little sunshine,” and related how he sang “This Little Light of Mine” to her.
“She always made us proud,” he said. “She’s a nice young lady and we enjoy her.” Indeed. Her father said that in addition to being quite an athlete, having won in CIF tennis tournaments, “She’s just as good in speech and debate.” She’s been on the Maranatha High School team for four years, and went to the NAACP oratory finals in Detroit last July.
“I told her if you practice long enough, good things will happen,” Wilkins said. “She’s been a blessing to us.”
Princess Reese Rosental Saporito’s father, Chris Rosental Saporito, said, “I am so proud of her. She is fantastic.” She has handled her position on the Royal Court with grace, he said. Reese is on the soccer team with fellow Marshall Fundamental School Princess Mia Thorsen.
INSIDE THE PLAYHOUSE
It was pretty much an all-female and heavily Latina cast, with Pres. Laura Farber leading the way as the first Latina (and only third woman) leading the 2020 Tournament of Roses. She was joined by the chair of the Queen & Court Committee, Ruth Martinez-Baenen, emcee Lynette Romero from KTLA News, and of course the Divas. Farber welcomed the audience, thanked the sponsors, and introduced the Pasadena Playhouse director of development Nancy Griffith Baxter and emcee Romero.
Each of the seven princesses was introduced with a short slide show featuring photos from early childhood and teen years. Voiceovers by her parents mentioned accomplishments, character, and personality. When all seven were onstage in their diaphanous champagne gowns, it was time for the announcement. Farber stretched out the announcement with several teasing false starts, then opened the envelope to announce, “Camille Kennedy!” After hugs and photos, the girls left to be fitted with their tiaras and for Queen Camille to change into her white gown.
In the interim, Farber asked the former princesses and queens in attendance to stand up, and she introduced the 1940 Rose Queen, Margaret Huntley Main, attending her 80th coronation. Queen Margaret, who wrote the book A Rose Queen Is Forever, advised, “Enjoy every moment. You are making memories for the rest of your life.”
There was a slideshow of the Royal Court at community events and their retreat in Solvang, a Danish community in Central California. The Mariachi Divas gave a spirited performance of mariachi favorites. When the set was done, they walked off the stage playing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”
As each Rose Princess was led back onstage on her father’s arm, she received a bouquet of red roses from two former princesses, Maya Kawaguchi Kahn (2017) and Helen Rossi (2019). The previous Rose Queen usually presents the bouquet to the newly-announced queen, but due to a calculus midterm in Chicago, Queen Louise Deser Siskel could not make it. She sent a video promising to take Queen Camille out for a deep dish pizza to make up for it, and Martinez-Baenen presented the roses.
OVER BUT STILL GOING
After the program, there were rounds of still photos and interviews with the media for the members of the Royal Court. We were able to get a few words with Queen Camille and some of the other members of the court. Quotes from the princesses are in the captions below; they are amazing young women, so be sure to read them! We asked Queen Camille, who is fluent in Japanese and wants to attend college in the country, if she learns languages easily and what she learns about others from knowing their language.
“I do!” she replied. “That’s what I’m proud of.” Math and science are more challenging for her, she said. In addition to Japanese, she is “fascinated with Korean.”
“The best way to learn a culture is to learn the language, and if you’re interested in [learning about] a culture, learn the language.”
OFFICIAL TOURNAMENT OF ROSES BIO
Camille is a senior at La Salle College Preparatory and lives in Pasadena. She is currently a member of her school’s drama/musical theater troupe and has been featured in three productions, including a lead role in the spring 2019 musical, “City of Angels.” Camille is a member of the afterschool choral group and the Support Our Troops Club. Camille enjoys listening to music, performing in theater productions with friends, cooking, and hitting the gym with her dad. She plans to pursue a liberal arts degree in Japanese linguistics, social sciences, or culture and media studies. Camille is interested in going to college in Japan, with Waseda University in Tokyo and Asia Pacific University in Kyushu as her top choices. Camille is the daughter of Tim and Jennifer Kennedy; she has two younger sisters, Ava and Esmé.
2020 Rose Queen Camille and the Royal Court will attend numerous community and media functions, serving as ambassadors of the Tournament of Roses, the Pasadena community, and the greater Los Angeles area. The grand finale will be their appearance on the Royal Court float in the 131st Rose Parade® presented by Honda and attending the 106th Rose Bowl Game® presented by Northwestern Mutual, both on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.
The 2020 Tournament of Roses in photos and stories
Each year, “America’s New Year Celebration” opens the door to joy, inspiration, and hope for the coming year. The theme of the 131st Rose Parade and 106th Rose Bowl Game is “The Power of Hope,” a big idea that can change the world. Or at least, our outlook on life. Hope is not just wishful thinking; it brings strength and power to our lives, even when things don’t seem to be going right. Participants from all over the globe find this hope as they ride, walk, and march along the parade route every year.
The big events, of course, are the parade and game, held on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. The Rose parade is a two-hour extravaganza of flower-covered floats, cars carrying Tournament of Roses celebrities, marching bands, and equestrian units. The Rose Bowl Game pits top football teams in “The Granddaddy of Them All,” the oldest post-season collegiate bowl game. They aren’t the only events, though. The days before and after are filled with things to do for people of all ages and abilities. Locals and visitors can attend Bandfest, Equestfest, Decorating Places, Showcase of Floats, and Live on Green.
Pasadena and environs offer great eateries, from In-N-Out Burgers to local breweries to high-end restaurants. Dozens attractions—museums, theme parks, children’s activities, concerts, theater, educational institutions, and landmarks—beckon Pasadenans and visitors alike. Enjoy the Tournament of Roses activities, and catch a little California culture, too.
Whether you watch online, on television, or live in Pasadena, The Rose Examiner will keep you informed. This page will be updated as new articles are added. Subscribe for free by filling out the box at the top of the left column, and be sure to bookmark this page and return to it frequently! You can also follow “All Things Rose Parade” on Facebook.
Hints. There are always hints. The hints started a little early with three Instagram posts, which can be seen on Facebook at All Things Rose Parade. At the announcement on Tuesday of the Grand Marshal of the 2020 Rose Parade, the hints were cinnamon apple empanadas (as American as apple pie), Mexican hot chocolate, and a band playing Latin American favorites—rhumbas, flamenco, Brazilian and Caribbean dances—and a red cloth covering the table that hold the bouquets. More than one, then?
More than one. The Grand Marshals of the 131st Tournament of Roses Parade, which will be held on Jan. 1, 2020, are gymnast and author Laurie Hernandez, actress, producer, and vocalist Gina Torres, and a woman who has more credits to her name than the Wrigley Rose Garden has flowers, Rita Moreno. She is one of only 15 EGOT winners (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) and has been honored with two presidential medals. At ages 19, 50, and 87, the women span three generations of talented Latinas. All three had stories of the Rose Parade and “The Power of Hope,” this year’s theme.
Be sure to check out the gallery below for photos of the big event!
Tournament of Roses President Laura Farber opened the event with “It’s a beautiful day in Pasadena!” She shared why she chose “The Power of Hope” as the theme. Born in Argentina to students who left everything to escape oppression, she said that the United States offered hope to her parents. He husband Tomas had a similar situation, with his family leaving the Dominican Republic to escape the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.
Hope makes anything is possible, she said. “El poder de esperanza. Hope means so much.” It brings joy, aspiration, inspiration. “Hope never quits.”
With that, Farber launched into her introduction of the Grand Marshal. The GM is a Latina, Farber related, who was born in New Jersey in 2000 and is an Olympic gymnast, author, and contestant on Dancing with the Stars, among other accomplishments. “Laurie Hernandez!” she announced.
Hernandez came through the thick silver curtain, and was presented with a bouquet of red roses. At the lectern she related that she has watched the “Rose Bowl Parade” since she was a kid. Her charm and enthusiasm made up for that slip of the tongue. “Keep spreading that message,” she said. “The Power of Hope.”
“It’s a dream come true!” she told reporters after the announcement. She said that she wanted to be part of the Olympics when she watched it on television, and she felt that same desire when she watched the Rose Parade. She said she was surprised when she found out she would actually have that opportunity. She spoke of the “chemistry” the three strong Latinas developed when they met prior to the announcement.
The usual program order is that after the speech by the GM, there are photo and interview ops. But this time, Hernandez went to the side of the stage and Farber again stood at the mic to announce the second Grand Marshal—a mezzo-soprano who sang opera and jazz, acted in The Matrix and television series such as Firefly and Suits, and is the first Afro-Latina to have the lead in her own series. Pearson. Gina Torres stepped through the curtain.
Her mother loved parades, she said, so she saw a lot of them. “Parades are about teamwork…So I’m honored to be a part of this team.”
Afterwards, she told a radio journalist that the invitation had come through her manager. He forwarded the email and wrote, “Scroll all the way down. I think you want to see this,” she said. “It took me 25 seconds to say yes!” Asked what her favorite operatic role is, she said that she hadn’t been a lead, but that she learned so much about Mozart, Handel, and other composers. Opera singers are really athletes, she said.
Farber was not done. The third Grand Marshal is from Puerto Rico, a Broadway star, and best-known for singing “America” in West Side Story. “She is a hero of Puerto Rico and an American legend,” Farber said. Who else could it be? Rita Moreno!
Moreno came through the curtain and down the steps dancing. She took center stage, and told her story. Her mother left Puerto Rico to create a better life. She worked in a New York sweatshop until she could go back to Puerto Rico and fetch her 5-year-old daughter. Even at that age, Moreno said her uncle was impressed with her dancing.
“All I ever wanted in life was to be a movie star,” she said. “I am so grateful to the Rose Parade, but especially to Laura…and representing with two astounding women.”
She called for music—the sound techs put on “We Are the Champions.” Moreno called out, “We don’t have any Latino music?” At that, they put on Latin dance music, and the three Grand Marshals joined in a dance. It has to be a first in Tournament of Roses history. Then the confetti cannons blasted, “America” began playing, and the three Latinas radiated joy.
Later, when West Side Story was mentioned, Moreno enthused about the new adaptation Steven Spielberg is making. Moreno will both executive produce the film and star as Valentina, a reimagining of store owner Doc. “It’s full circle,” she said.
Asked about how she feels about being a role model, she responded, “It’s great. It’s not something I started out to do. I became a role model by accident.” And the message? “I’m still working at 87. That’s great!”
Followers of All Things Rose Parade had a good time guessing who the Grand Marshal would be. Only one thought it might be Gina Torres, and he, along with several others, pinned Rita Moreno. Be sure to “like” that page to stay up to date on Tournament of Roses happenings, and subscribe to The Rose Examiner to get email notifications as articles are posted. No spam will be sent to you.
Here are the official Tournament of Roses bios
Rita Moreno has received four of the most prestigious awards in show business; an Academy Award®, a Tony Award®, two Emmy® Awards, and a GRAMMY® award. Her credits span more than six decades, beginning on Broadway at age 13. A recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture, Moreno was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. In addition to her film, stage, television and concert accomplishments, Moreno gives her voice to important causes, including racial equality, hunger, early childhood education, as well as health issues like HIV, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Moreno was among many celebrities to take part in the historic March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963 and has since been involved with many civic, cultural and charitable organizations, including the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Well-known for her roles on Suits, Alias, Firefly and Westworld, Gina Torres was born in Manhattan to a close-knit Cuban family and raised in the Bronx. Gina’s character, Jessica Pearson, on USA Network’s hit original series Suits garnered award-winning success which lead to the spinoff series, Pearson. Currently she is staring in the lead role and executive producing Pearson, which sees her Suits character take on the world of Chicago politics. The role of Jessica has been a life changing one, earning Gina the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Award for Outstanding Performance in a Television Series and the Visionary Award from the LA Femme Film Festival. Before entering the world of acting, she studied opera and jazz as a vocal major which lead her to appear in plays and musicals on Broadway, being directed by such legends as Tommy Tune and Pete Masterson in Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public and Jerry Zaks in Face Value. In addition to her work on television and Broadway, Gina’s film credits include The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions and Sundance Film Festival Critics Choice, Don’t Let me Drown. Gina enjoys giving back through several philanthropic organizations; Heifer International, Dress for Success, Planned Parenthood and Save the Children.
Laurie Hernandez earned Olympic Gold and Silver medals as a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team. Laurie is a second generation American, her grandparents are Puerto Rican, making her the first U.S. born Latina to make the U.S. team since 1984. Following her win at the Summer Olympics, she earned another title, champion on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. In 2017, Laurie became an inductee into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame and was recognized as the 2018 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Biggest Kid. Most recently, Laurie served as a cohost of America Ninja Warrior Junior, and as the voice of Valeria on Nickelodeon’s Middle School Moguls. Laurie is the author of two books; I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, chronicling her journey thus far and a children’s picture book She’s Got This, each appearing on the New York Times Best Sellers list. When not in the gym, Laurie serves as Global Ambassador for Stomp Out bullying and travels the country inspiring young gymnasts and speaks to the next generation about following your dreams. Laurie will go for the gold again at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
PASADENA, Calif. (September 17, 2019) – The Tournament of Roses announced today that Harvard graduate and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Eddie Casey, former Ohio State quarterback and three-time Rose Bowl Game starter Cornelius Greene, former USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy-winner Matt Leinart and former University of Washington running back and Rose Bowl MVP Jacque Robinson will be inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame as the Class of 2019.
The Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at the Lot K Tent on December 31, 2019, outside of the Rose Bowl Stadium, one day prior to the kickoff of the 106th Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. This year’s game will be a traditional Rose Bowl Game, with a team from the Big Ten meeting a team from the Pac-12 on Wednesday, January 1.
The Rose Bowl Hall of Fame was established in 1989 to pay tribute to members of the Rose Bowl Game who have contributed to the history and excitement of the game, and those who embody the highest level of passion, strength, tradition and honor associated with The Granddaddy of Them All®.
Eddie Casey may have been small in stature but played football larger than life. The 155-pound halfback and defensive back had remarkable quickness and agility that made him an outstanding player on both offense and defense. Casey started as a freshman in 1916, then served in the Navy during World War I. After returning to Harvard in 1919, Casey led the Crimson to an undefeated 9-0-1 record, including a 7-6 victory over Oregon in 1920 Rose Bowl Game. The victory introduced the Tournament of Roses to the New England states. Against the Ducks, Casey accounted for more than half of Harvard’s 205 total yards with 49 yards rushing and 59 yards receiving. For his efforts, Casey was named MVP of the game. Casey coached the Harvard freshman team from 1926-28, then was an assistant on the varsity team in 1929-30, before finally became the head coach from 1931-1934. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968.
Cornelius Greene is in a small fraternity of football players who played in four Rose Bowl Games. Greene played for Ohio State in the 1973 Rose Bowl Game, then started in the 1974, 1975 and 1976 games. In the 1974 game, Greene was named MVP in a 42-21 victory over USC. The sophomore quarterback threw for 129 yards and ran for 45 yards and a touchdown. Buckeyes legendary head coach Woody Hayes described the 1974 Rose Bowl Game as “the best game we’ve ever, EVER played.” Greene’s third quarter touchdown run broke a 21-21 tie and gave the Buckeyes a lead they would not relinquish. Greene accumulated 454 yards of offense and scored two touchdowns in the 1975 and 1976 games. The 1975 Chicago Tribune Silver Football award winner as the Big Ten’s best player, Greene was 31-3-1 as a starter and was an eleventh-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1976 NFL Draft.
Matt Leinart was one of the most celebrated quarterbacks of the last 20 years of college football. The USC signal caller led the Trojans to a pair of Rose Bowl Games, including a 28-14 victory over Michigan in the 2004 Granddaddy of Them All. In the win, Leinart won MVP by throwing three touchdowns and running for another. In his second Rose Bowl Game, Leinart completed 73-percent of his passes and threw a touchdown pass, but the Trojans lost to Texas in the 2006 BCS National Championship, 41-38. Leinart finished his college career with a 37-2 record in games he started and won the Heisman Trophy in 2004. The two-time All-American was selected 10th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft and played six seasons in the NFL. Leinart had his USC jersey retired and was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007, followed by an induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
Jacque Robinson was the spark that led the University of Washington to a 28-0 victory over Iowa in the 1982 Rose Bowl Game. Robinson became the first freshman to be named MVP in the Rose Bowl Game after he racked up 142 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns. The Husky running back started the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He then broke the game open in the fourth quarter with a 34-yard touchdown scamper that gave Washington a 21-0 lead. Robinson went on to win Orange Bowl MVP honors in 1985, one of just four players to win MVP in both the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl Game. Robinson was selected in the eighth round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame in 2016, as part of the 1984 Washington football team.
With the addition of this year’s class, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame includes 133 inductees over its 31-year history. Inductees are honored with a permanent plaque that includes their name and year of induction at The Court of Champions at the Rose Bowl Stadium. They are also featured during the Rose Parade® presented by Honda®, and are recognized on the field during the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. More information on the Hall of Fame induction ceremony can be found online.
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.’”
Actor Nic Novicki led a cheer—actually, several of them—to celebrate Easterseals 100th anniversary and the Rose Parade float at Fiesta Parade Floats.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
Easterseals has aided people with disabilities for a full century and is the largest disabilities service provider in the United States. To celebrate and honor this anniversary, the organzation is sending its first-ever entry, a giant flowered birthday cake down the Rose Parade route in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2019,. Last Saturday, Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) threw a party at Fiesta Parade Floats and invited Tournament of Roses Royalty to attend. Photos are below.
Nancy Weintraub, chief development officer for ESSC, said, “If there was ever a time to do one, this is now.” The 100th is a big party, and “it deserves a parade.”
Board member Mary Platt told us “For years [we talked about] how to get our name out among a broader group of people.” The float was a dream of hers and others. “All of a sudden, this became a reality.”
The “all of a sudden” took 18 months to two years to get through the process of committee work, coordinating with the headquarters in Chicago, and going through design and building. The festive float, “Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services,” was designed by Charles Meier with a 20-foot high cake, party horns, and presents.
Easterseals serves 1.5 million people with disabilities across the country every year. ESSC is the largest autism service in California, with 8,500 families. One of the goals of Easterseals is to build a more inclusive future for the 61 million Americans with diverse disabilities. There are services for adults, children, veterans, seniors, and caregivers. Services include day services, therapy, peer-to-peer groups which help with social interaction, camp, and assistance in finding housing and employment.
There were a couple celebrities making the rounds at the party: actress Jamie Brewer, who has been a recurring actress in 20 episodes of American Horror Story, and Nic Novicki, who has 45 acting credits on IMDB and a couple dozen credits in writing, producing, and directing. He had a recurring role on Boardwalk Empire, and as Tyrion Lannister in the spoof School of Thrones. Both were irrepresible in their excitement over the Easterseals float and the work the nonprofit does.
Novicki is an ESSC board member and Founder/Director Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. The short videos have people with disabilities on or behind the camera, and can be serious or funny. Some can be viewed at the link above, along with information on how to enter the sixth challenge in 2019.
Brewer has worked in theater since she went to a summer program in 8th grade, for which she got college credit. She learned stagecraft, acting, and valuable skills for her career. In addition to American Horror Story, a new movie, Turnover, is in post production.
“An older man takes a new direction in life,” she explained. “He hires individuals who have different backgrounds, different abilities. Two special communities are represented: the Down Syndrome community and the deaf community.”
We asked if she sees herself as a role model and groundbreaker. She replied enthusiastically, “I am! I do break barriers! I’m the first woman with Down Syndrome to walk in a New York Fashion Week.”
When it was time to cut the real cake sitting in front of the float, President & CEO Mark Whitley underscored the “effort of inclusion” Easterseals promotes. “What better way to celebrate 100 years, than a float in the Rose Parade.”
Mary Platt stood with her son Michael, who is autistic, as she spoke. “The question is always, ‘What do you do?’” She said that the float will show some 80 million viewers all over the world what Easterseals does.
One of the most affecting speakers was Howard McBroom, Advocate for Easterseals. He worked himself into a job after some time of speaking with legislators and politicians as a volunteer. He was so effective in Sacramento, that Easterseals gave him a full-time job.
“Only one in five people with disabilities have affordable housing. The other four do not,” he stated. He says this is a “national disgrace.” When he meets with legislators who express sympathy, he tells them, “Compassion does not pay the bills.”
The young women on the Royal Court also spoke. Princess Helen Rossi, who has juvenile arthritis, said, “This event is special to me, because (for my Girl Scout Gold Award), I wrote a storybook for kids with disabilities.”
Queen Louise directly addressed the need for diversity. “I learned about Easterseals’ effort to destigmatize disability….Years ago, the Court was all white women,” she said, adding that the Tournament of Roses will continue to diversify.
“Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services” will have 12 riders, spinning pinwheels, 3,000 hot pink roses, a coconut flake-covered cake, and lots and lots of marigolds. The flower is associated with Easterseals, and will be represented with fresh petals and stylized sculptures. McBroom will ride the float, with Easterseals Program Director Bryan Nguyen, who is a peer-to-peer counselor.
Kim Cohn, Vice President Marketing Communications for ESSC, explained how the riders were chosen. Each one of the 71 Easterseals affiliates were given the opportunity to nominate a rider, and 20 or 30 did.
“The committee looked for great, inspiring Easterseals stories, and those were chosen to ride the float,” she said.
Nine of the riders are Easterseals clients and three are accompanying riders. They are Kaison Shipp-Collier, 12, Easterseals Nevada (autism); Sophia Stafford, 17, Easterseals Southeastern Pennsylvania (Williams Syndrome), accompanied by sister Sabrina Stafford, Easterseals music therapist; Reagan Crabtree, 20, Easterseals Iowa (apraxia, autism); Blake Scribner, 21, Easterseals Central Illinois (brachial plexis injury), accompanied by Katie Pena, therapist; Matthew Jameson, 21, Easterseals Massachusetts (spastic diplegic cerebral palsy); Lora Glassman, 32, Easterseals Southern California (brain condition); Ernesto Gutierrez, 43, Easterseals Southern California (injury from an IED attack); Howard McBroom, 60, Easterseals Southern California (autism), accompanied by Brian Nguyen, Easterseals Program Director; danny Blake, 68, Easterseals Blake Foundation (cerebral palsy)
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Chaka Khan, 2019 Rose Parade Grand Marshal, was surprised by the colorful confetti raining down when she came through the purple curtains.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
The announcement of the Grand Marshal for the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade had the usual elements. Oct. 17 was a beautiful, warm day, the front porch of Tournament House was gorgeously draped, the band was great, the press stand packed. There was the usual excitement in the audience, waiting to find out who would ride in the Grand Marshal’s car on Jan. 1, 2019. When Chaka Khan was announced, the crowd roared and the confetti cannon went off.
Known as the “Queen of Funk,” Chaka also sings R&B, pop, rock, gospel, and country. We asked what other music she likes; she responded, “I love Indian music.” She just finished a project in the Gujarati language with Indian performer Sonu Nigam, which celebrates the life of Gandhi.
Check out the gallery below for photos, and thislink for a video on the TOR Rose Parade Facebook page.
But there was a lot that was unusual in the announcement.
There were fewer hints in the food served, music played, decorations (except for the purple drapes), yet from the murmurs in the crowd, it seemed like more people than normal had an idea of who it would be. That may have been because more details were released ahead of time—10 Grammy awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a place in the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. In his introduction, Pres. Gerald Freeny gave more details that confirmed those hunches, and affirmed that she was indeed a performer who would sing and dance in the opening act of the parade.
Chaka and her retinue were late, reportedly due to LA traffic. The Tournament, which makes sure the Rose Parade starts at 8 a.m. on the dot and the Rose Bowl Game coin toss is never late, announced that the star player would be 15 minutes behind the 9 a.m. start time. It was a quarter after when family members took their seats in the front row, and past 9:30 when Freeny stepped up to the lectern.
Now, a heads-up: Much of this article reflects the opinions of the writer, which is also unusual. If there is one constant in the feelings of folks who love the Rose Parade, it is that they very rarely and almost never publicly criticize the choice of a theme or Grand Marshal. People tend to be pretty polite when it comes to this grand old Pasadena tradition, and the criticism The Rose Examiner heard was couched in the politest terms.
There was disappointment about Chaka’s speech, which seemed thoroughly unprepared. She opened with “Well, I just don’t know where to go with this,” but added, “I’m so honored.” She thrice referred to “the Rose Bowl Parade,” which any GM would have been coached not to do. The theme, “The Melody of Life,” was garbled into “The Rhythm of Life.” References to the parade indicated that she had just not done her homework. (To her credit, she did name the Old Pasadena business district correctly.)
Other than noting that the floats are pretty, she seemed to have no interest in the Rose Parade. She said, “I remember looking at it. But not really looking…. Y’know, it was after the big game.” The game actually comes after the parade. It did seem she was a tad self-conscious—she said, “I hope you like me” and acknowledged that she was “a little bit scared.”
She said little about the Chaka Khan Foundation or what it does. This contrasted with previous Grand Marshals, such as Gary Sinise, whose tireless work for veterans is well known and very personal to him. Jane Goodall had not known about our American tradition when approached, but took the time to find out and agreed to be GM because it is consistent with the values of her charitable work. Actor J.R. Martinez was not a star but has an amazing, compelling story and his courage is indisputable.
There was also some speculation that Stevie Wonder, whom Freeny mentioned three times, was his first choice for Grand Marshal, not Chaka. Indicators were her lack of preparation and not having any idea what she would do for the opening show. Be that as it may, it is not unusual for a president to go with a second or third choice and it doesn’t reflect on how good a GM might be.
A friend of your Rose Examiner was refused by his first choice, who was not available on New Year’s Day, and his second choice backed out at the last minute. His third choice, Gregory Peck, proved to be one of the happiest GMs ever. When he was a child, his family drove up from San Diego to watch the parade every year. One year, they took a stray dog back with them. He was the first, and perhaps only, GM to get the Tournament time on The Tonight Show, due to his friendship with Johnny Carson.
Another late choice was Chesley Sullenberger III for 2010—late, because the TOR president had passed away before choosing a Grand Marshal. Yet what better choice could there have been that year for the theme “A Cut Above the Rest” than the “Hero of the Hudson.”
The Chaka Khan Foundation
Perhaps these comments come out of a suspicion about non-profits, due to years of working for both good ones and bad ones. It is difficult to tell from the foundation website whether the organization is actually out in the community working on programs, or simply partnering with other organizations that do the work. It is fine if a foundation does not actually create or run programs, but supports successful programs financially and with star power. That should be clear in the material, though, whether spoken, written, or posted online. It would have been good to hear more about it from the Tournament media release or Chaka herself.
Chaka established the Chaka Khan Foundation in 1999. The mission statement is “The Chaka Khan Foundation educates, inspires and empowers children in our community to achieve their full potential.” The foundation website says “The Chaka Khan Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.”
However, it does not show up by EIN search on either Charity Navigator or GuideStar, and only on GuideStar by name, with the note “This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.” The “foundation team” has photos but no names attached, and does not state there is a board of directors as required by law. The only information on the team page is a long promotional piece for the album “ClassiKhan.”
If Chaka did not do her homework on the Tournament of Roses, it appears that the Tournament of Roses did not do its homework on her foundation, either.