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Tournament of Roses Parade - The Main Event

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Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. [Photo Credit:] Rose Parade in Pasadena

Although every Rose Parade features magnificent floats, majestic horses with their riders, and world-class marching bands, each parade is a little different than the ones before. Every year, choosing the theme for the parade is a big deal and float sponsors wait eagerly to hear what it might be so that they can start drawing up plans for their creations. Recent themes include "Our Good Nature", "It's Magic," "Celebrate Family," and "Music, Music, Music." All floats are designed around the theme though no two are ever even close to being alike.

The creation of a float for the following year's parade begins almost immediately after the parade that has just been completed. In the early days, floats were designed and made almost exclusively by volunteers, but today, experts are involved in the process.

While everyone has their own way of creating their float, all must follow the rule which states that every inch of the float be covered with flowers or natural materials of some sort, including seeds, tree bark, and grass. While the framework and mechanical pieces can be assembled weeks or even months before the event, the natural materials are not applied until a few days before the event to insure freshness. The Tournament of Roses Association estimates that it takes 60 volunteers working 10 hours a day for 10 days to decorate one float!

These days, the floats don't just ride past parade goers looking pretty. Many of them have intricate moving parts that create the most amazing scenes, from Ferris wheels and roller coasters to replicas of famous landmarks and robots that grow to enormous sizes en route down Colorado Boulevard. Amazing!

Each year, everyone also waits anxiously to see the parade's guest of honor, the Grand Marshal. Recent marshals include George Lucas, Regis Philbin, Bill Cosby, Mr. Rogers, and Mickey Mouse. Politicians, astronauts, and famous sports figures have also served as Grand Marshals for past parades.