WASHINGTON, January 1, 2012–Not to worry, sports fans. Yes, we know–you and millions of other red-blooded Americans woke up late this morning, groggy from last night’s festivities but still pumped up and eager to watch the famous Tournament of Roses Parade and ensuing college gridiron classic. But #@$%&! Where did they go? Did some network idiot sleep in and forget to put them on today’s TV schedule?
Never fear. Due to the way the holidays fell this year, the “official” New Year holiday is tomorrow, January 2 since today, January 1, falls on a Sunday. Everything you were looking for happens tomorrow, not today, bucky, because tomorrow is most folks’ official day off.**
Right, you may have missed yesterday’s exciting Chick-fil-A Bowl game, because you were too busy partying. But you won’t miss the Tournament of Roses Parade and game if you and your buds gather in front of that brand new 360-inch flat screen TV. Tomorrow. (Details below.)
Meanwhile, now that we have some time to relax, how about a little Rose Bowl history?
The first Tournament of Roses Parade was held on January 1, 1890. One hundred and twenty two years later, it will happen again tomorrow, January 2, 2012, just like we promised. The theme (and there is always one) of this year’s parade will be “Just Imagine.” (As in, “just imagine” how many people are torqued off that those much-anticipated Tournament of Roses events aren’t on TV today.)
In the winter of 1890, members of Pasadena, California’s Valley Hunt Club were searching for a way to promote tourism to the West Coast. At one club meeting, Hunt Club member Professor Charles F. Holder announced, “In New York, people are buried in snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.
“Huzzah! Splendid! A capital idea!” shouted the professor’s fellow club members. Or something like that. At any rate, to get the metaphorical ball rolling, they began to invite shivering East Coast tourists out to always-sunny southern California for what was eventually billed as a “Mid-Winter Holiday,” complete with chariot races, tug-of-war, foot races and other lawn games.
Professor Holder’s “mid-winter holiday” soon grew to include parades with marching bands and floats decorated exclusively with the perpetually blooming flora – mainly roses – easily obtained in the Pasadena area year round. With the annual event’s growing popularity, The Tournament of Roses Association was established in 1895, so named for those wonderful roses and the tournament-like competitive games that the “Mid-Winter Holiday” had made popular.
In 1902, things started looking a little more like they do today. Football was added to the games and the first contest pitted California’s Stanford University against the University of Michigan. The Wolverines, said to have been named after a Marvel comics superhero, prevailed handily, 49-0. The California team’s whupping was so lopsided that Stanford actually left the field in the third quarter. That inaugural football game led to a hiatus for the sport in the local festivities until 1916 when pigskin prognosticators and combatents returned to Pasadena. A new stadium was built. And on New Years Day 1923 the very first football game was played in the city’s brand new and aptly named “Rose Bowl.”
But traditionally, prior to each annual football matchup, Pasadena still stages its extravagent Tournament of Roses Parade. Over the years, it’s grown from a display of all-volunteer floats to a corporate sponsored technological extravaganza consisting of elaborate motorized and animated floats that take a full year to create. In keeping with the Tournament of Roses format, however, each float, whaterver its underlying structure, must be decorated exclusively with floral and/or plant matter, including, flowers, buds, seeds, twigs, grasses, whatever. Just as long as it grows. Or grew.
Each year’s floats are judged on a range of criteria, including creative design, floral craftsmanship, artistic merit, computerized animations, thematic interpretation, and dramatic impact.
This year’s Tournament of Roses Parade is being sponsored by Honda. Like each of its predecessors, the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade will be led by a Grand Marshall, with this year’s honors falling to J.R. Martinez, an Iraq War Veteran, current actor, and recent Dancing with the Stars Winner, who’s bravely recovered from injuries received during battle. Conveniently, the 28 year old Martinez is a resident of nearby Los Angeles. He’ll cruise the parade route in a 1933 V-16 Cadillac All Weather Phaeton with his mother, Maria Zavala and girlfriend Diana Jones.
During a press conference on Friday, an enthusiastic Martinez said, “It’s really going to be amazing… I think that’s really going to hit me in an emotional way. To think, here I am bringing in 2012 in such an unbelievable way.”
In addition to its annual Grand Marshall, another non-floral parade highlight is the annual appointment of the Rose Queen and her Royal Court. More than 1,000 woman apply for the honor of riding on the royal float. But that’s not all. Their duties do not end at the close of the day. The Queen and her Court will continue to serve as Rose Bowl and Pasadena ambassaådors of good will, attending public and media functions throughout the year.
This year’s Rose Queen, 16 year old Pasadena native Drew Washington, will reign along with 2012’s six Rose Princesses: Morgan Eliza Devaud, Stephanie Grace Hynes, Cynthia Megan Louie, Kimberly Victoria Ostiller, Hanan Bulto Worku and Sarah Nicole Zuno.
“2012 Rose Queen Drew Washington and our six princesses are perfect ambassadors for the Tournament of Roses and the city of Pasadena,” said Tournament of Roses 2012 President Rick Jackson. “They are talented, graceful and stellar role models who will inspire many young girls. We are delighted to have Queen Drew lead our court and reign over the 123rd Rose Parade and 98th Rose Bowl Game.”
Check back here, on Monday, January 2nd as we watch and live chat the parade, inviting watchers to join in and comment on the floats, entertainers, and festivities.
The 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade kicks off the New Year on January 2, 2012 at 8am PT, 11am ET, live from Pasadena, California. The Rose Bowl game follows later in the day.
Rose Bowl events run on Pacific Standard Time (PST), so be sure to check your cable provider or broadcast channel listings for local times.
**Actually, there’s more to the Tournament and Parade date switch protocol than meets the eye according to a December 27, 2011 piece in the online Marching.com. Seems that back in the day, all the event’s hustle and bustle would spook the horses tethered outside Pasadena’s various churches if the spectacle–and New Year’s Day–happened to fall on a Sunday. So the powers-that-be-and-still-are decreed that the fun would be moved to Mondays when a Sunday New Year’s Day happened to occur. This occurred most recently in 2006. For even more Rose-oriented stuff, check out Gayle Falkenthal’s column in TV Den.
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