Don’t Rain on Our Parade

MarryingMinda Crop to UseFor my first blog of 2010, I must wish you a blessed new year. May 2010 bring you every good thing, and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

No holiday season would be complete at our house without a gander at the Tournament of Roses Parade, long called “America’s New Years’ Celebration.”

In my early days, I ooohed and aaahed a ‘plenty in front of a black and white TV set, and as a teen, I spent a New Year’s Eve sleeping in somebody’s driveway for a first-hand experience. However, these days I relax in front of my big screen with a mimosa.

Rose Parade Rain BirdAs a kid, I remember Christmas cards from the Kansas kinfolk who couldn’t wait to see the flower-bedecked floats on TV on a bleak winter morning. Not until I lived through my first Midwest winter in college did I understand their awe.

In fact, for that very reason, the first Tournament of Roses parade was staged in 1890 by members of Valley Hunt Club, a social club in Pasadena, California. Most of them were former residents of snow country who wished to showcase the mild winter weather of their new home.Rose Parade 3

 “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.”Rose Parade Historic 2



 The first parades included various horse-drawn transports covered in local flowers, and eventually came to include ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations, and a race between a camel and an elephant. (The elephant won.) Eastern newspapers began to take serious notice of the event, and history was made.

Rose Parade HistoricIn 1883, the Never on Sunday rule was instituted, to avoid frightening horses tethered at churches along the parade route. This rule stands today. If January first lands on a Sunday, the Parade is held on Monday the 2nd. And only twice in almost sixty years has there been rain..the parade goes on nonetheless. Rose Parade historic float

In 1902, the Tournament of Roses decided to enhance the day’s festivities by adding a football game – the first post season college football game ever held. The Rose Bowl, granddaddy of them all.

The Tournament of Roses has come a long way since those early days of horses and wagons. Rose Parade historic 3On the five and a half mile route, floats today can exceed 100 feet in length, although they must watch out for a 90 degree turn in the road and a freeway overpass. They feature high-tech computerized animation and exotic organic material from all over the world. Each visible inch of the float must be covered with natural materials and these include much more than roses and flower petals. Ground rice, pinto beans, seaweed, poppyseed, and coconut bark are just a handful of the materials used. Who woulda thunk orange slices make good fish scales?

After the parade, floats are parked on display for two days, and a couple of years ago we got some great photographs.Rose Parade frog

 Although most floats nowadays are built by professional building companies and take up to a year to construct, a few floats are still created by volunteers. The post-Christmas week flurry of activity is something I clearly remember from my teen years when our church group, the “Pedal Pushers” worked frantically to get our entry finished.


This year my favorite of the 40 floats was  Donate Life which featured 76 “floragraphs” in memory of organ donors, the beautiful portraits done  in flowers and seeds. Floragraphs And on a lighter note (I have two grand-pup bulldogs), the Guinness-record longest single-chassis float at 113 feet was sponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods and featured snowboarding bulldogs. Rose Parade Tillman_the_DogTilman the star bullie, happens to be a hometown hero. Since the ski slope couldn’t be covered with plant material, it needed special permission to participate.

I hope you got to enjoy this year’s parade. And I hope you’ve gotten to enjoy my current release, Marrying Minda, or soon will. I’m thrilled the follow-up book, Marrying Mattie, featuring Minda’s sister will be released later this year. So, tell me about your parade experiences. Any Rose Paraders out there? How about Macy’s? Hometown charmers? Harbor Parades of Lights?

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27 thoughts on “Don’t Rain on Our Parade”

  1. Hi Tanya,
    I loved reading your blog. Living in Southern California, I’ve attended my share of parades and worked on more floats than I can remember. The parade route itself is an experience worth checking out. People start gathering there two or three days in advance, staking out a place with sofas, TVs and barbeques. If you’re going to wait that long for a parade, you may as well be comfortable, right?

    Thanks for bringing back a lot of wonderful memories.

  2. Hi Margaret, thanks for stopping by! Yes, the camping out was too big a deal for me to do ever again, (and I was a youngster in those days, too LOL!) but it was fun to do once. I think I’m more into comfort than first-hand experience.

    Happy New Year, my filly friend. oxoxxoxoxoxo

  3. Tanya,

    I’ve always been one of those glued to the tv on New Year’s morning. Mom even planned fixing lunch around watching the parade. lol Now I’m a proud owner of a “huge” flat screen and the parade is even more beautiful.

    Loved the bulldogs this year!

  4. Hi Tracy, good to see you here. Yeah, before multiple repeats and DVR, the parade only ran one time, I think, and we kids had to make plans to be up pretty early to get it watched. 8 a.m. around here LOL. Worth it though. Thanks for the post. oxoxoxox

  5. Tanya, thanks for sharing the history of the parade. I didn’t know when it began. Very interesting. I try to watch it every year. I love seeing the beautiful floats. I just can’t imagine some of the things they portray being made from flowers. Boggles the mind.

  6. As far back as I can remember The Rose Parade has been part of my New Years Day tradition. I always watched it with my grandmother. She is gone now and but it is one of the many tradtions I had with her that I will not stop..

  7. Hi Linda, thanks for stopping by. Yes, all those seeds and single petals and onion skins ,must be done by hand. Very laborious LOL.But definitely worth it on the eye. Seeing the floats up close and personal at Victory Park afterwards was an incredible experience…the pinto beans weren’t just dumped on, but laid mosaic-like, with great care. Wow. oxoxoxxo

  8. Hi Kathleen, so glad to have given you a happy memory. My gramma is the source of so much good in my life. Glad you like the parade. I love all the horse units too but didn’t want to clog the blog LOL. Thanks for posting today.

  9. Tanya, thankyou so much for sharing the history of the parade. Like you I remember watching in black and white (and loving it) but the colros today are so much more interesting. It amazes me every year what they come up with! We used to share a ‘family of the heart’ Christmas on New Years Eve with some close friends and their family and watching the parade was an important part of the next morning as everyone(12 of us) gathered on sleeping bags and what ever piece of furniture had stayed in the living room after this huge slummber party to watch the parsade and then the bowl games. What wonderful memories you brought to mind. Thanks, again.

  10. Hi Connie, oh, thanks so much for your thanks and kind words. It means a lot. It’s always good to see you here at Wildflower Junction, and your post brings to mind all the slumber parties I had as a child. YOU brought me some good memories, too. Happy new year! oxoxoxoxox

  11. Hey Tanya, I live on the Cdn prairies and have never been to CA but I love watching the Rose Bowl parade on TV. It’s about the only parade I watch but this year by the time I put the TV on, I had missed it. 🙁 This is my fav parade because of the use of plant material and the ingenuity that goes into it. All the possibilities. Great post.

  12. Hi Mary, the floats truly are amazing. I thought the “florgraphs” particularly stunning, all the attention to detail that got them looking like the real people. Beautiful.

  13. Hello Anita May, I missed the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade this year too…with the grandbaby in the house, had sure wanted it on. I agree, the Rose floats are totally ingenius and totally amazing. Thanks for visiting the junction today…alwayas great to see you here.

  14. Hi Tanya – Oh, I wish I had felt better last week. One of the most fun things we do, is to see the floats after the parade, when they put them on view. I love seeing them close up – the TV just doesn’t do them justice.
    And my favorite was the snowboarding dogs!! Loved that!
    Great blog!

  15. Hi Tanya, I grew up in Los Angeles and loved watching the Rose Parade on TV. I wanted to go in person during high school, but my folks weren’t too thrilled with the idea of me being out all night 🙂 Even on TV, the floats are gorgeous!

  16. Wow — I watched all the parades as a kid every New Year’s Day, but I can’t recall ever watching them as an adult. I guess I need to sit my butt down and do it next year!

  17. Hi Charlene, we didn’t make it to Victory Park either this time around…but you’re right. The hand-done detail is breathtaking in person. Those bulliedogs still crack me up. Thanks for posting! oxoxoxoxoxox

  18. Hi Vicki! My parents were uber-protective as well…the only reason I was allowed out after dark LOL that one time was because it was the church group going, and we wanted to see the float we’d help decorate up close and personal. I have to admit, however, it was a kinder, gentler era way back when. Thanks for stopping by! oxoxoxoxox

  19. Yes indeed, Helen. You must watch the Rose Parade next year. These days, I think it’s broadcast all day long somewhere so one no longer has to get up with the chickens to watch it. Thanks for coming to the junction today. oxoxoxoxo

  20. Tanya,

    Sorry for the late post real busy since I will be on blog radio this Saturday night. Anyway I love the parades

    This was a very interesting post Hope you listen to the blog radio this Saturday

    Walk in harmony,

  21. As a child living in NE in the bleak mid-winter, the Rose Parade was a must see even though it was in balck and white. I would bundle up in a blanket on the couch and watch the entire parade, wishing I lived in “tropical” CA! NB

  22. Hi Nancy, thanks so much for posting this evening. And now you do live in the tropics LOL while the rest of your kinfolk are hovering at the zero mark, no?

    Have a great 2010…

  23. We were stationed in Sacramento in the mid 80’s and went to the Rose Parade one year. My aunt had come out for Christmas as did my in-laws. We all bundled up with our three children and headed south. It is not all the wide boulevards they show on TV. The bleacher seats we had were in the shade of a building throughout the parade and the street narrow. The older members of the group were chilled to the bone by the time the parade finished. We were dressed for the cool weather, but sitting there for hours didn’t help. We all enjoyed the parade although our son was a bit too young to really appreciate it.
    Over the years we have been in numerous local parades with Girl and Boy Scouts and other groups we belong to. The most fun was the Pike’s Peak Or Bust Parade in Colorado Springs. The worst when I was a pom pom girl in our high school band. The Saranac Lake, NY Winter Carnival is held in January (I think). It was about 2 degrees out, there was icy slush ankle deep, and we were out in it for 2 hours or so. Uniform of the day for us – little white boots, very short skirts and sweaters. I don’t think I’ve been that cold in my life.

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