The 123rd Rose Parade and 98th Rose Bowl Game will not be held on New Year’s Day in 2012. Why? Because it’s a Sunday, and the Tournament of Roses Association just doesn’t do parades on Sundays. Instead, the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game will be held on Monday, January 2.
The “never on Sunday” rule may seem like a blue law—an ordinance designed to enforce the religious practice of Sunday as a day of rest—but it actually makes a lot of sense in Pasadena. Here’s a little history, and some geography to boot.
The tradition began in 1893 for the fourth Rose Parade. This was the first time the parade fell on a Sunday, and the Valley Hunt Club, which ran the parade, realized it might cause some havoc to run a parade along the main drag when a whole lot of people were in church. Colorado Blvd., the longest stretch of the Rose Parade, is lined with churches large and small and has been for more than a century.
The problem wasn’t the worshipers, though one might suspect that the organizers would have preferred they stand outside and watch the parade, and the clergy might have preferred that the parade-goers be in church. The floats were simple affairs then, wagons and carriages decked with roses and pulled by beasts of burden. No electronic music blaring from speakers as they rolled along the boulevard.
The problem was the horses. Officials were concerned that the hubub might frighten the horses. It’s unclear whether the horses in question were the ones tethered outside the churches or the horses in the parade, who would become unnerved by the ringing of the church bells. Nothing like a screaming horse to add sound effects when the pastor is preaching on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
In modern times, people drive their tin lizzies to church and the noise of the parade won’t spook them. But with Colorado Blvd. swamped with parade-goers, the adjoining streets packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and crossings completely closed down from before 8 a.m. until the parade is finished, it is almost impossible for anyone to attend a church that’s within a half mile of the parade route and not very easy for those further afield, either.
So the tradition has remained, and in exchange (some say), the Good Lord has seen fit to send sunshine for almost every parade in the 123-year history of the Rose Parade. Sometimes, it rains right up to 8 a.m., when the clouds peel back and the sun bursts through to reveal the gorgeous San Gabriel Mountains to the north. It has only rained on the parade 10 times since it began in 1890, and usually no more than a light shower. Parade-goers may need a parasol, but rarely an umbrella.
The theme of the 123rd Rose Parade and 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2 is “Just Imagine…” The Tournament of Roses is a celebration that lasts several weeks in the fall and winter, with the high points being the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game. Keep following your Tournament of Roses Examiner for the latest news and for upcoming announcements.
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