The Rose Parade takes place on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, CA. After watching the Rose Parade on tv for many years I was excited to finally get to see it in person. You can camp out on the street on New Year’s Eve or wake up extremely early to try and get a spot on the street. Hotels with rooms facing the parade route can be extremely expensive but that could end up being the right choice for you. Or you can do what I did and purchase a seat in the bleachers lining the parade route. Since I’m short this helped guarantee that I would have a good view and as a bonus, I did not have to camp out to claim my spot. The tickets can be purchased at sharpseating.
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My Mom and I recorded an episode of the LA Dreaming Podcast discussing the Rose Parade. In part one we talk about the history of the parade, how you can volunteer to decorate a float, and how to attend. For part two, we interview family friend Richard Burrows who has designed award-winning Rose Parade Floats.
Rose Parade Episode Part 1
Rose Parade Episode Part 2
What Is The Rose Parade
The first Tournament of Roses Parade, which takes place in Pasadena, dates back to 1890. Members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club first staged the parade in 1890. Since then the parade has been held in Pasadena every New Year’s Day, except when January 1 falls on a Sunday. In that case, it is held on Monday, January 2nd. The parade has evolved from carriages decorated in flowers to the grand floats that we are used to these days.
The floats have to be decorated with items that were once living like flowers, seeds, nuts, and more. The colors have to be natural, they cannot be dyed. It is mind-blowing what can be created within the guidelines.
The Rose Bowl college football game was added in 1902 to help pay for the cost of the parade.
In addition to the floats, there are marching bands and equestrian groups that help make this parade complete. There are some interesting-looking books on Amazon about the Rose Parade bands and a different book with behind the scene stories of the parade.
Volunteering to Help Put a Float Together
You can join one of the city floats, like Downey for example, and help put on the materials to bring the float to life. The best way to get information about volunteering is to sign up for their email list. Most of the organizations really need volunteers during deco week which is the week from Christmas to New Year. You can find information about volunteering for Downey here.
Did you know that anyone can submit a design for a float for the parade to cities like Sierra Madre and Burbank? Our family friend Richard Burrows talks about that in part 2 of our Rose Parade podcast episode!
Attending the Parade
Finding parking in the area was a bit tricky with road closures and with all of the other people who had come to see the parade. I do have a few recommendations to help make it easier for you though. You can park over by Duarte and take the Goldline to help avoid the crowds. Pre-pay for parking through Sharpseating. Or get dropped off via a rideshare app. Definitely have cash with you if you don’t pre-pay for parking. If you would like a program for the parade be sure to have cash for those as well.
Seeing this parade in person at least once should be on your Los Angeles bucket list. It is really hard to fully describe how incredible these floats are. However, if you are not able to make it to the parade that is not the only way to get to enjoy the floats. Floatfest takes place in the afternoon of January 1st as well as on January 2nd and gives you the chance to see the floats up close in person. You can purchase tickets here.
You can take a free tour of the Tournament of Roses Mansion on Thursdays at 2pm & 3pm.
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The Rose Parade always ties to the Rose Bowl with the teams appearing in the parade.