I have had such an interesting, long journalist career in what I call “my mountains” and each year, looking back I can’t help but remember a hilarious and fascinating interview I did many years ago with a man who had a cozy cabin in Green Valley Lake that he frequently visited as a part-time resident. This man was also on the Tournament of Roses committee so when I interviewed him I asked him for some personal memories. It was such a fun interview and we laughed a lot. Without a doubt the funniest information that he gave me was when the Tournament of Roses parade Grand Marshal, none other than former U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was grand marshal.
What most people don’t know (but now you’ll be in the know) tournament committee members as well as the Grand Marshal go to the Victorian-era Tournament House to relax and eat a delicious lunch between the parade and the Rose Bowl game. The first year that former President Dwight Eisenhower was there as the Grand Marshal he and all the dignitaries were at Tournament House. The president had to use the “restroom” at some point so he (obviously) went to the bathroom. The only problem was that when he went to leave he pulled the handle on the old doorknob to get out but the old door knob came off in his hand. Remember, this was a very old house. He couldn’t get out of the bathroom and because there was so much revelry going on the noise level in the beautiful old Victorian home was enormous. As the president banged on the door and yelled to get out no one could hear him. At some point the secret service agents became alarmed because the former President was not to be found and eventually he was rescued from the “loo.”
I love that story and because it came directly from someone on the tournament committee that I personally interviewed I know it’s true. What a great story.
The other story I love about this great parade is that originally the Tournament of Roses parade were held on Sundays. However it was eventually changed to a different day rather than Sunday. The reason? When the first parades took place people rode horses to church. Parishoners would hitch their horses to the nearest hitching post. When the parade came through on Sunday the horses would be scared so much that eventually the day of the parade was changed so the horses wouldn’t be scared, make such a commotion and potentially get loose and run away. That’s why, if January 1 falls on a Sunday, the parade is held the following day, a tradition to this day.
Here’s some more interesting history about, and from, the Tournament of Roses Association…,
What began as a small effort by Pasadena’s distinguished Valley Hunt Club to promote the city’s charm and beautiful weather, the Tournament of Roses has since become American’s New Year Celebration. The Rose parade, celebrating its 126th year in 2015, greets the world on the first day of the year and salutes the community spirit and love of pageantry that have thrived in Pasadena for more than a century. In the winter of 1890, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the festival, which had grown too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle.
In the winter of 1890, the club members brainstormed ways to promote the “Mediterranean of the West.” They invited their former East Coast neighbors to a mid-winter holiday where they could watch games such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun. The abundance of fresh flowers, even in the midst of winter, prompted the club to add another showcase for Pasadena’s charm: a parade to precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms.
In 1895, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the festival, which had gown too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle. The Tournament of Roses has come a long way since its early days. The Rose Parade’s elaborate floats now feature high-tech computerized animation and natural materials from around the world. Although some of the floats are still built exclusively by volunteers from their sponsoring communities, most are built by professional float building companies and they take nearly a year to construct. The year-long effort pays off on New Year’s morning, when millions of viewers around the world enjoy the Rose Parade.
More than 80,000 hours of combined manpower is supplied by 933 volunteer members of the Tournament of Roses Association. Each volunteer is assigned to one of 31 committees, with responsibilities ranging from selecting parade participants to directing visitors on New Year’s Day, to serving food to band members at the end of the parade route to giving presentations about the Tournament to community groups . Nicknamed “White Suiters” because of the distinctive white uniform every volunteer wears, these community-spirited men and women give up their evenings, weekends and holidays to ensure the success of the parade and game. A small full-time staff provides support and continuity to the Volunteer organization.
Love it! Love it! Love it!
Happy new year everyone!