Thursday, January 5, 2012

Everything came up Roses!

It was the 123rd Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California, (Fine...120th for the picture to the left, with my FAVORITE elephant!) And if you are reading this and took a sharp breath in and said "I WANNA SEE THAT SOMEDAY!!!"...then go ahead and book your tickets for 2013, cuz it's beyond plenty awesome!!! I'll give you the number for Al Brooks-the company of choice to work for and go with for the Rose Parade/Game...and I'll even wait for you to book it and come back. 1-800-341-2766. Tell them I sent you, you won't get a discount, but if you promise to bring a dozen honey crisp apples to Jay Brooks....perhaps you'll get a seat cushion upon arrival!?

Okay. Are ya booked?

Good. Read on.

I'm SMITTEN with the flowers, and it of course helps that it's in SUNNY CALIFORNIA where the average temperature on parade day is? DRUM ROLL PLEASE?! 68 degrees. Insane. And fabulous! Granted layers are clutch, and some years are cooler than others, but this was about 82 degrees by 1pm after our fabulous Mexican lunch on Olvera Street!

So hit the 5 "W"s? Who? What? When? Why? Where? Oh...and HOW!


I didn't think this through very well. Who what? Who puts it on? The Tournament of Roses! Who has a float in the parade? Whomever can pay for one! Who marches in the parade? Whatever bands qualify, and whatever bands that can raise the money to get to Cali! Who benefits? CALI! They say that the Parade and game generate like $400 million dollars for southern California. Who gets to watch? YOU! On TV! Or hopefully, some year, NEXT, in person! People camp out for good free seats. I vote for paying, sleeping in your own bed the night before, and being dropped off pretty near to your sweet seats!


The parade...full of flowers. 40+ floats...made entirely, and I mean ENTIRELY, of some sort of a living plant. The more actual ROSES, the better, but seeds, petals, bark, leaves, fibers, stems, vegetables, nuts, and almost any other part of a plant are also used! Only 7 types of glue are allowed to be used! Every single visible part of the float, must be covered. Next time, take notice of the hitches! Generally those are covered in onion seeds. Amazing.


January 1! UNLESS January 1 is on a Sunday, then it's January 2. "Never on a Sunday" is a rule steeped in tradition, and thankfully still adhered to today!

Pasadena, California. 5.5 miles of Rose Parade goodness. Where is best to sit? Me? I've never not sat directly on the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado, but I've been spoiled and living a dream. You? Somewhere in a bleacher! And if you can be somewhere where the sun is behind you? That'd be swell, plus your pictures will turn out better! Honestly a tour with Al Brooks-less hassle, better seats, worth every penny, and plus I hear they have great guides...


WHY NOT! Well, the real answer is this...which I will steal from the official site of the Rose Parade...

"This uniquely American event began as a promotional effort by Pasadena's distinguished Valley Hunt Club. 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 would precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms. The Tournament of Roses was born.

"In New York, people are buried in snow," announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting. "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."


"During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats. The games on the town lot (which was re-named Tournament Park in 1900) included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant (the elephant won). Reviewing stands were built along the Parade route, and Eastern newspapers began to take notice of the event. In 1895, 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."

It's pretty much? JUST AWESOME!


Well, it's a science for sure. They estimate that over 18 million flowers are used each year! Growers must time their growing cycle exactly so that the flowers are ready to be picked and shipped just a few days before the parade! Volunteers from all over help out! YOU! Yes, YOU could be a volunteer! "Petal Pushers" as they say! There are many different requirements as to height, as there is a bridge to pass under, and the float must be able to fit under the bridge in less than 25 seconds so as to NOT slow the parade! Planning starts in January, once the THEME is announced, then ideas must be submitted so there are no overlaps, and then by March the sponsor shopping begins! In May those builders must have a scale model to present to the sponsors! June sees them working on the main framework, and by September, the main construction is complete, and any small items are fabricated and installed on the float. Deliveries of non-perishable items such as seeds and beans start in October. Flowers start arriving in late-December and are stored in separate tents until they are needed. Approximately 30,000 workers, many of them young people from schools and church groups, report to the various builder's construction sites to begin the round-the-clock job of decorating the floats. Most flowers are prepared by popping the heads off the stems before being glued in place. Delicate flowers are placed in narrow plastic vials filled with water before being pushed in place. Each float requires an average of 10,000 lbs of flowers and takes 7,000 person-hours or more to decorate! (The photo here is of the 2012 float promoting organ donation, and featured those that had lost a loved one, and the one saved by their loss. )

The first time I ever saw it, I was given SWEET tickets, and I went to all the floats before the parade, they are located in various parts of the county. There are many out by where the Rose Bowl actually takes place in the Rosemont Pavilion. There are some in other buildings around the city. The La Canada-Flintridge float gets built underneath an overpass-and every year is hysterical and VERY cute! Then the morning of? I walked the row of floats, yes, at like 5am. (PS? They get disqualified if they aren't in line by 3am) THEN? You watch the parade, and after? You go to the Post-Floats! Where they are all lined up and ready for onlookers like us! And just when you are all flowered out? You fall into bed, since you've not slept all week, and wake up to the option of having "In and Out Burger" for dinner, as you are in California after all!

Go to the Parade. Go to the game if you want, but really, get float stalking, and get to the parade. You'll thank me. And I'll just go ahead and say it now. You. Are. Welcome!

And yes...yes HGTV DID make it snow on their float! Seriously. MAGICAL!