The Tournament of Roses Parade: A New, New Year’s Tradition?

tournament of roses, pasadenaI’ve lived in Southern California my entire life but have never been to the Rose Parade. Usually on New Year’s Day I catch the second re-run on TV while nursing a hangover. However, this year I’m going to check one more thing off my “bucket list” and brave the cold and crowds to watch it live, in person. Of course that will mean waking up before the crack of dawn, grabbing a thermos of strong coffee and a camping chair, and then heading east to Pasadena. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos and will post an update here soon. It remains to be see if this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or will become a new New Year’s tradition.

The 122nd annual Tournament of Roses Parade takes place on Saturday, January 1, 2011 beginning at 8:00 a.m. (PST). This year’s theme is “Building Dreams, Friendships & Memories.” Besides the magnificent, world-famous floral floats, the parade will feature high-spirited marching bands from all around the country and noble equestrian units.

The 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade Map

The five-and-a-half mile long parade route begins at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena. It travels north on Orange Grove at a leisurely 2.5-mile per hour pace and then turns east onto Colorado Boulevard where the majority of the parade takes place. At the end of the route, the parade turns north onto Sierra Madre Boulevard where it ends at Villa Street. The entire route takes about 2 hours to complete.

Each float must conform to very strict regulations in regards to size and thematic design. Most importantly, its surface must be completely covered using only a variety of flowers, seeds, bark, leaves and other natural materials.

paula deen, rose parade, grand marshal, pasadena

Grand Marshal, Paula Deen

This year’s Grand Marshal is celebrity chef Paula Deen. As Grand Marshal, she will preside over the 122nd Rose Parade and will toss the ceremonial coin before the 97th Rose Bowl Game as well. Paula Deen is my favorite Food Network personality so I can’t wait to see her. I wonder if she’ll try to deep fry any roses in butter?

If you aren’t able to make it to the parade in person, it will be broadcast on ABC, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA (Tribune), NBC, and Univision. It will also be seen around the world in more than 220 countries and territories. Approximately 52 million Americans watch the Rose Parade on TV every year. Plus, from mid-day January 1st through January 3rd, you can get up close and personal with the floats at the end of the parade route. Visitors can walk within a few feet of the floats and appreciate for themselves the creativity and the imagination of the floral displays. The admission cost is only $10 per person and children under 5 are free. [Located at Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards in Pasadena.]

Here’s a little history lesson: The Tournament of Roses Association was started in 1890 by the Valley Hunt Club. It’s now a public, non-profit, volunteer-driven corporation headquartered at the former Wrigley Mansion in Pasadena. A small full-time staff works with the volunteer members year-round to bring the Parade and Game to a worldwide audience. Originally started to celebrate California’s mild winter climate, the Tournament’s founders, Dr. Francis Rowland and Prof. Charles Holder,  patterned the floral festival after the “Battle of the Flowers” in Nice, France.

For seating & ticket info: Visit the official Tournament of Roses Tickets page.

For general info: Call toll-free at (877) 793-9911 or (626) 449-ROSE.

Check out the official Tournament of Roses website Here:

Click here for a PDF Rose Parade Map that you can download.

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Happy New Year!

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