Since its inception in 1891, the Rose Parade has been a longstanding New Year’s Day tradition that millions of people around the world attend in-person or watch live on television.
But as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association has canceled the 2021 Rose Parade.
“The health and well-being of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority,” said Bob Miller, 2021 president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.
“Obviously, this is not what any of us wanted, and we held off on announcing until we were absolutely sure that safety restrictions would prevent us from continuing with planning for the 132nd Rose Parade.”
This is the fourth time in history that the annual parade will not take place. Previously, the parade did not occur in 1942, 1943 and 1945 because of World War II. This year, the Tournament of Roses commissioned a feasibility and safety report for hosting the parade that was conducted by health experts from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
Even with intensive efforts such as 6-foot distancing and face masks to ensure compliance with public health measures, the report indicated that it was likely that Rose Parade activities would create a high-risk environment.
Travel to and from the event, particularly for those visiting from other states and countries by plane, would also present an infection risk to travelers, and could further lead to increased spread of the virus. In addition, preparation for the parade usually begins in February and requires thousands of volunteers to begin construction on the floats in the months leading up to the big day—an activity that would not be in compliance with current safety recommendations.
Despite the cancellation of the parade, the planning for the Rose Bowl Game—which the Tournament of Roses Association also hosts on January 1—is still ongoing.
“We continue to work with the College Football Playoff and our collegiate partners to explore what this year’s college football season will look like amidst COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines,” said David Eads, executive director/CEO of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.
“While the safety and well-being of the student athletes, university personnel and fans is our top priority, we remain hopeful that the Granddaddy of Them All will take place on New Year’s Day.”
The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association is working with broadcast partners and sponsors and is in the process of making plans for reimagined New Year’s celebration. The theme for the 2021 Rose Parade is “Dream. Believe. Achieve.” and celebrates the ability of education to open doors, minds and change lives. While the festivities won’t include the parade’s traditional 5-mile march along Colorado Boulevard, new and safe ways for hosting a celebration that everyone can be a part of are currently being explored. Further details will be announced in the coming weeks.
“I know that I speak on behalf of our 935 volunteer members and the hundreds of thousands in our community for which the Rose Parade is an annual tradition, when I say we will miss the joy of coming together and the making of memories,” Miller said. “But know that we will not miss this opportunity to celebrate a New Year and healthy new beginnings on January 1.”
Added Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, “We all know what the Rose Parade means to us here in Pasadena, as well as to New Year celebrations around the world. To know that we won’t get to experience this great tradition on January 1, 2021, is extremely disappointing. However, we also know that we must act responsibly to protect our community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to working with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses on their reimagined New Year celebration, as well as the return of the Rose Parade on January 1, 2022.”
For more information, visit tournamentofroses.com.