Pasadena Tournament of Roses

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Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association
2011 Rose Bowl (emblem).jpg
Founded 1890
Focus 126th Rose Parade
101st Rose Bowl Game
Area served
Southern California and worldwide television audience
Key people
Mike Matthiessen, President
William B. "Bill" Flinn, Chief Executive Officer
935 members
Slogan America's New Year Celebration
Website Tournament of Roses website
Flowers on a 2009 Rose Parade float

Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, created by the efforts of Charles Frederick Holder and Francis F. Rowland, is the non-profit organization that has annually produced the New Year's Day Rose Parade since 1890 and the Rose Bowl since 1902. "America's New Year Celebration" is "a festival of flowers, music and equestrians and sports unequaled anywhere in the world", according to the Tournament of Roses. The association has 935 volunteer members and the members spend some 80,000 combined work-hours to stage the events.[1] The year 2015-16 marks the 127th Rose Parade and 102nd Rose Bowl Game on January 1, 2016.


Members of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association are people from the community. When they join, they are between the ages of 21 and 64, live or work within 15 miles of Pasadena City Hall, and are willing to work on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. They must have "a reputation for integrity, reliability, dependability, commitment and dedication". Members are required to devote the time and effort to perform the designated task at the time required. They are interested in community service, as evidenced by involvement in professional, civic, service, political and community organizations, according to the association.[2]

During the Parade, many tournament members are required to wear distinctive white suits, with a red tie, a name tag, a membership pin and an official ribbon. Because of this, the volunteers are commonly referred to as "white suiters". In December each year, a fleet of white vehicles, provided by American Honda, with special "T of R" license plates, is seen throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

Tournament House[edit]

Tournament House

Tournament House is the name given the building where the organization is headquartered. The Tournament House (formerly a Wrigley Mansion) and the Wrigley Gardens are located on South Orange Grove Boulevard, Pasadena, California. The structure, a stately Italian Renaissance-style mansion, was once owned by William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing gum magnate. After Mrs. Wrigley's death in 1958, the property was presented to the City of Pasadena with the condition that the house become the permanent base of operations for the Tournament of Roses.[3]

Today, the five bedrooms of the second floor are used for committee meetings, as well as serving as a dressing area for the Royal Court and space for display of the Tournament of Roses history. There are displays of trophies, past Rose Bowl Games, Grand Marshals, Presidents, and Queens and Courts. Of interest is an original panel of Peanuts comic strip for January 1, 1974, when its creator Charles M. Schulz served as the Grand Marshal.[4] On the panel, Lucy was watching the parade on TV and was telling Linus van Pelt that "They have some of the most beautiful floats this year I've ever seen." When Linus asked about the grand marshal, Lucy said, "Yeah, you missed him...but he wasn't anyone you ever heard of!" [5]

The Rose Garden at the Tournament House

The house was built for real estate and dry goods tycoon George Stimson, designed by his architect son G. Lawrence Stimson. After construction was completed of this house on "Millionaires' Row" in 1914, Mr. Stimson sold it to the Wrigleys for $170,000. A year later, the adjacent gardens were bought for $25,000.

The Association maintains the grounds of the Tournament House, and volunteers from the Pacific Rose Society care for the rose gardens. There are hundreds of varieties of roses, camellias, and annuals planted at the All-America Rose Selections' test gardens. The gardens are open to the public throughout the year, except for December 31 through January 2.


Each year, the president announces a parade theme in January and chooses a Grand Marshal during the year. With the announcement of the theme, the preparation and construction of the floral floats begin, along with the selection of marching bands and equestrian units.

On January 21, 2016, Brad Ratliff was confirmed as President of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. He announced that the theme for the 128th Rose Parade and 103rd Rose Bowl Game is Echoes of Success. The parade and bowl game will be held on January 2, 2017 due to the "Never on Sunday" rule. He will lead the 14-member Executive Committee.[6]

William B. Flinn was named the Tournament of Roses executive director on March 1, 2012.


1st Cavalry U.S. Army, Fort Hood, Texas, at the 2007 Rose Parade

According to the association, members are "assigned to one of the 32 committees, with responsibilities ranging from selecting Parade participants to directing visitors on New Year's Day, to serving hamburgers to band members at the end of the Parade route, to giving presentations about the Tournament to community groups".[7]"

Some of the committees are:

  • Executive Committee – fourteen members overseeing the entire operation and is the main policy making body of the association
  • Formation Area – take charge of the staging area before the start of the parade
  • Parade Operations – run the parade, escort the floats, and man the parade route
  • Post Parade – take charge of the floats after the parade and operate the post parade viewing event
  • Decorating Places – manage the viewing at construction sites, allowing the public to view the floats at the various sites prior to the parade
  • Equestrian – selecting the participating equestrian units, stage Equesfest at L.A. Equestrian Center, and insert the units into the parade line-up
  • Float Construction – overseeing the complete construction and testing of the floats
  • Football – in charge of the Rose Bowl Game, including the selection of participating schools and the Hall of Fame ceremony
  • Music – help select the participating bands from around the country and the world, stage the Bandfest shows at Pasadena City College, and insert the marching bands into the parade
  • Queen and Court – manage the tryouts, select the Queen and Princesses, and coordinate the various activities of the Royal Court

Queen and Royal Court[edit]

Natalie Innocenzi, 2010 Rose Queen

Each year, a selection process is held in late September and early October to find out which Pasadena-area girls (ages 17 to 21) will have the honor of being crowned Queen of the Tournament, or in substitution, one of the members of her "Royal Court". Each year over 1000 girls try out. Six princesses and one queen are chosen. The winners then ride on a float in the parade, and carry out duties in promotion of the Tournament, mainly during its duration and prelude. Their duties include attending over one hundred events in the Pasadena area. They usually receive scholarship money, a 30-piece wardrobe and other benefits. During the time that they attend Tournament events, usually from October to January, each girl usually attends school a few times a week for only a few hours at a time.

The first Rose queen, Hallie Woods, was chosen by her classmates at Pasadena High School in 1905. She made her own gown and helped decorate the float upon which she rode.

The 2015 Rose Queen is Madison Triplett (John Marshall Fundamental High School). Members of the Royal Court are Mackenzie Byers (Pasadena City College), Gabrielle Current (Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy), Veronica Mejia (Pasadena City College), Bergen Onufer (Mayfield Senior School), Simona Shao (Westridge School) and Emily Stoker (Temple City High School).

Ana Marie Acosta was crowned 2014 Rose Parade Queen at the Coronation Ceremony on October 24, 2013. Other members of 2014 Royal Court are Sarah Hansen, Pasadena City College; Kayla Johnson-Granberry; Pasadena High School; Jamie Kwong, La Salle High School; Katherine Lipp, La Cañada High School; Elyssia Widjaja, San Marino High School; and Elizabeth Woolf, La Cañada High School.[8]

Vanessa Manjarrez of Mayfield Senior School was named the 2013 queen on October 16, 2012. Recent Rose Queens are: Drew Helen Washington (2012), Evanne Friedmann (2011), Natalie Innocenzi (2010)[9]

Grand Marshal[edit]

2015 Grand Marshal designee Louis Zamperini, who died on July 2, 2014

The Rose Parade has had some of the world's most distinguished individuals serving as Grand Marshal, which included actors, astronauts, writers, artists, athletes and political figures. Traditionally, the Grand Marshal rides in the Tournament of Roses parade and tosses the coin for the Rose Bowl.

Grand Marshal Shirley Temple was the youngest GM ever and she presided over the 50th anniversary Rose Parade celebration (1939). Other notable grand marshals included Bob Hope, Chief Justice Earl Warren, actress Carol Burnett, George Lucas, Bill Cosby, James Stewart, Kermit the Frog, Mickey Mouse, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The 2016 parade grand marshal is American filmmaker Ken Burns. Louis Zamperini was chosen for the 2015 parade. After his passing on July 2, 2014, the Tournament announced that it was "committed to honoring him as the Grand Marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade."[10] Previously, Vin Scully was named Grand Marshal of the 2014 parade and Rose Bowl Game.

Rose Bowl Game[edit]

Main article: Rose Bowl Game

The Rose Bowl Game was added in 1902 to help fund the cost of the parade.[11] The 1902 "East-West" football game was between The University of Michigan and Stanford University. The final score was Michigan, 49; Stanford, 0. The game was next played in 1916 and has been played annually since then.

Since 1923, the game has been played in the Rose Bowl stadium, which was completed in that year. The USC Trojans and Penn State Nittany Lions were the competing teams that year. USC won the game, 14-3. In 2002, the first BCS National Championship Game was held on January 3 at the Rose Bowl stadium.

The Tournament of Roses hosted both the traditional Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi and the Citi BCS National Championship Game in 2010. Vizio became the new presenting sponsor beginning with the 2011 Rose Bowl Game. The 2014 Rose Bowl Game will mark its 100th college bowl game. The January 1, 2015 Rose Bowl game will be a semifinal game of the College Football Playoff, replacing the BCS.

The original Rose Bowl stadium was built in a horseshoe shape, open on the south end, for $272,198.26. It had a capacity of 57,000. Beginning in January 2011, the stadium will undergo a $152 million renovation construction.

Awards and honors[edit]

State-issued "T of R" license plate

Tournament of Roses Foundation[edit]

The foundation was created in 1983 as the charity arm of the association. It has donated grants to local civic, educational, and cultural organizations in the San Gabriel Valley. The foundation awarded $102,372 in grant awards during 2009, ranged from $1,900 to $10,000 per organization.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]