Each January 1st, beginning in 1890, has seen hundreds of thousands of people gather along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, California to watch the Rose Parade. The event takes place in the morning before its namesake, the college football game known as the Rose Bowl, begins in the afternoon. Millions more around the world look forward to viewing the Rose Parade on their televisions each year.
Showcase for California's favorable winter weather
The Rose Parade came about as something of an advertisement of California's mild winter weather. Many residents of the Valley Hunt Club, founders of the first Rose Parade, had roots in the eastern or mid-western part of the country, where winters can be cold and very snowy.
After moving to California, these transplanted members of the Hunt Club wanted to share the beauty of their winter-blooming flowers and ripening oranges with their old friends and neighbors back east. The first Rose Parade included horse-drawn, flower-draped carriages, followed by friendly polo matches, tug-of-war contests, and foot races held on a small Pasadena city lot.
Headquartered in a donated mansion
The Rose Parade headquarters is an Italian Renaissance-style mansion that once belonged to the family of the famous chewing gum maker, William Wrigley Jr. When his wife passed in 1958, the mansion was given to the City of Pasadena specifically for the purpose of serving as a permanent base for the Rose Parade and was soon given the name Tournament House.
Two hours of viewing pleasure
The Rose Parade moves along a route that extends over approximately 5.5 miles of of streets. At one point, floats and parade participants must navigate under a freeway overpass, making it necessary for many of the tall floats to be designed to reduce their height in order to pass under without damage. The official parade route begins along South Orange Grove Boulevard at the Green Street intersection and winds its way to the end point near Pasadena High School on Paloma Street.
Float coverings must be all natural
An interesting fact about the Rose Parade is that the rules specify that floats must be covered only with natural materials. In addition to the mainstay covering of locally grown flowers, float builders often use vegetables, nuts, bark, seeds, and even seaweed in their designs. Because there is also a restriction against the use of artificial colors, it can be very challenging for float builders to find natural materials in the right colors and textures with which to work.
If your family is planning to view the Rose Parade in person this year, consider taking booking a 2020 Rose Parade Tour to more easily get the full experience.