Just as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade always lets us know Christmas is just around the corner, the January 1st Tournament of Roses Parade is an annual tradition to help us usher in the new year.
The original Tournament of Roses was started in 1890 by the Pasadena Valley Hunt Club. Many of the club's members were originally from the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. where the winters can be harsh. They decided to showcase California's mild winter weather for everyone to see. "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."
The first parades featured horse drawn carriages covered in flowers. The parade was followed by other activities such as foot races and polo matches. In 1902 a college football game between Stanford and Michigan was added to the festivities when Stanford played Michigan. The lopsided score of that game, a 49-0 victory by Michigan, caused football to be dropped in favor of chariot races the next year.
In 1916 college football returned to the Tournament of Roses for good and the annual Rose Bowl is one of the bigger events in college football.
The elaborate floats for the parade start out with a simple framework of steel and chicken wire which is built on a specially constructed chassis. The frame is then sprayed with a polyvinyl material and is then painted the colors of the flowers that will be put on later. Float construction begins shortly after the previous year's Parade is over. Every inch of the float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds, or bark. Workers put the flowers on the floats in the days after Christmas. The most delicate flowers are placed in individual vials of water, and are put onto the float one at a time.
This year's theme of Good Times will emphasize "the good times!" From a distance, the vibrant colors of the flowers mesh together so well that it is almost unimaginable that flowers create the beautiful colors of the floats.
For pictures and more information on this year's Tournament of Roses Parade visit the official Tournament of Roses Parade web site.