Bringing fanciful floats and quick-stepping marching bands to the green streets of Pasadena, California every New Year’s Day, the century old Tournament of Roses Parade is a colorful festival of flowers that rings in the new year for the nation every January with the big Rose Bowl game following. The 2012, 123nd Rose Parade presented by Honda is themed “Just Imagine.”

Nicknamed “The Granddaddy of Them All,” the Rose Bowl Game, which will be presented by VIZIO in 2012, has been a sellout attraction every year since 1947. The 2012 Rose Bowl Game will match the No.10 BCS ranked Wisconsin Badgers - champions of the Big Ten Conference with the No.5 BCS ranked Oregon Ducks - Pac-12 Conference champions.

The BCS (Bowl Championship Series ) is a five-game showcase of college football. It is designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game, and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.

The 2012 game will mark the 98th Rose Bowl Game. Kickoff is at 2:10 p.m. Pacific Time - 5:10 p.m. Eastern Time - on Monday, January 2, at the Rose Bowl Stadium.

The Rose Parade was first staged by members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club on January 1,1890 in Pasadena, California. Today, thousands of spectators line the parade route and millions view it worldwide on television.

The first Rose Parade featured horse-drawn carriages covered with flowers. The parade was followed by sporting events that included foot races, polo matches and a game of tug-of-war on the town lot. The first year’s activities attracted a crowd of 2,000 people. Upon seeing the scores of flowers on display, the event was named "Tournament of Roses."

Over the next few years, marching bands and motorized floats were added to the parade. By 1895, the event was too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle, so the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association was formed. By the 11th annual tournament in 1900, the town lot, a large open area directly adjacent to Caltech on which the activities were held, was re-named Tournament Park. Activities soon included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and an odd novelty race between a camel and an elephant - which the elephant won. Eventually, reviewing stands were built along the parade route and as publicity about the event spread, even newspapers in Eastern seaboard cities started to take notice.

A Chariot Race, during the 1908 Tournament of Roses, was later replaced by the Rose Bowl Football Game, which was first played in 1902. The next game was not played until New Year's Day 1916, but games have been played annually since then. The game was named after the Rose Bowl Stadium, which was built for the 1923 game.

The Rose Parade gained its permanent headquarters, when William Wrigley Jr. - of the Wrigley's chewing gum and confections company - offered his stately Italian Renaissance-style mansion to the city of Pasadena, after Mrs. Wrigley's death in 1958. The mansion was donated under the condition that the home would become the Rose Parade's permanent headquarters. It was named, Tournament House.

Rick Jackson was selected as the 2012 President of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. The President of the Tournament of Roses has the duty of selecting a theme for the Rose festivities and most of the floral floats in the parade are decorated in accordance with the annual theme. Jackson chose “Just Imagine” as the theme for the 2012, 123rd Rose Parade. The Grand Marshal for the 2012 parade will be J.R. Martinez, an Iraq War veteran, actor and spokesman. Recently, Martinez was named to the cast of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” He partnered with professional dancer, Karina Smirnoff and performed renditions of the samba and rumba. He dedicated his performance to those who lost their lives during military service. Through the years, Grand Marshals have included notables, such as: Shirley Temple, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bob Hope, and Richard M. Nixon.

Each year in late September and early October, a competition is held to select a Queen of the RoseTournament and six Princesses, who will reign over the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game. The candidates are selected from girls in Pasadena area, who are between the ages 17 to 21. More than 1000 girls try out. The winners ride on a float in the parade, and carry out tournament promotional duties, which involve attending over one hundred events in the Pasadena area. The winners receive scholarship money and a 30-piece wardrobe.

Drew Helen Washington of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy was selected as the 2012 queen on October 18, 2011. The Coronation Luncheon was held on October 27, 2011. Other members of the 2011-12 Royal Court include: Sarah Nicole Zuno, Benjamin Franklin High School; Cynthia Megan Louie, LaSalle High School; Morgan Eliza Devaud, La Canada High School; Kimberly Victoria Ostiller, Flintridge Preparatory School; Hanan Bulto Worku, Pasadena High School, and Stephanie Grace Hynes, of Maranatha High School.

The 2012 Rose Parade, which will be held on Monday January 2, will have 43 floats, featuring the LMU Centennial Celebration float, and the Girl Scouts of America 100th Anniversary float, entitled "What Will You Do Today?" Paramount Pictures is also participating in the 2012 parade with its centennial celebration float "100 Years of Movie Magic". Namco Bandai Games will join the parade for the first time, commemorating the Power Rangers. Other entries include Microsoft’s float - with the theme, “You are the Controller," and the Kit-Cat Klock’s, "Timeless Fun for Everyone.” The floats will compete for one of twenty-four awards. Selections will be made by three judges.

Originally flower decorated horse carriages were entered in the parade, but eventually, floats, built by volunteers replaced the carriages. Most floats are now built by professional float building companies and take nearly a year to construct, however, the Cal Poly University’s Rose Float is still built by student volunteers and the Valley Hunt Club still continues its early tradition and enters a flower decorated carriage each year.

Floats in the various 'float barns' that dot the Arroyo Seco / Rose Bowl area in West Pasadena, near the start of the parade, may be viewed by the public 48 to 72 hours prior to parade day - as they are being decorated with fresh flowers.

According strict float construction rules, all surfaces of the float frameworks must be covered only in natural materials, such as flowers, plants, seaweeds, seeds, bark, vegetables, or nuts. No artificial flowers or plant material are allowed, nor can the materials be artificially colored.

Top marching bands from all over the world come to Pasadena to participate in the Rose Parade, along with many of the nation's best high school, college and organizational marching bands. Every year, there is a Tournament of Roses Honor Band, made up of the best student musicians in California, who are selected by auditions. The best snare drummers and trumpet players march directly before the Rose Queen's float and play fanfares.

Marching bands from the University of Wisconsin and Oregon State University will also march in the parade, accompanying floats representing their schools.

Other notable bands, which have made regular appearances at the parade include: the Los Angeles All District High School Honor Band; The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Marching Band, which made its 90th appearance in the parade in 2010; and The United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band.

In addition to marching in the parade, the bands also participate in a Bandfest at Pasadena City College's Robinson Stadium, which normally takes place on December 29 and 30 each year.

Other Rose Tournament events are: the Coronation Ceremony, a Royal Ball; a Hall of Fame ceremony at the Pasadena Convention Center, a Kickoff Luncheon, and a Rose Bowl Game tailgate party,

Since the parade’s beginning, equestrian groups have played a large part in the Rose Parade. Prior to the parade, an "Equestfest" is held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center to showcase the performances by expert riding teams. Equestrian units taking part in "Equestfest" have included: First Cavalry Division U.S. Army, Fort Hood; Clydesdales; USC mascot "Traveler;" Sons and Daughters of the Reel West; and the California State Fire Fighters Association.

The 2012 Rose Parade will have an expected 18 equestrian units with nearly 400 horses. Equestrians groups will include: All American Cowgirl Chicks, Arizona Mini Mystique, Broken Horn Ropers, Calgary Stampede Show Riders - riding with the Calgary Stampede band, Calizona Appaloosas, Cowgirls Historical Foundation, Escondido Mounted Police, The US Army’s First Cavalry, Fort Hood, Kings County Sheriff's Posse, LAPD Mounted Unit, Long Beach Mounted Police, Los Hermanos Banuelos, Medieval Times, Merced County Sheriff's Posse, New Buffalo Soldiers, So Cal Peruvian Pasos, Spirit of the West, War Horse Militia, US Marine Corps, Valley Hunt Club, and a Wells Fargo group.

After a year’s work to construct the floats and organize all the parade participants, parade day finally rolls around. The day before the parade, the entire environs of the neighborhood streets south of the intersection of Orange Grove Blvd. and Colorado Blvd. are sealed off and reserved for the massive marshaling of numerous floats, bands, equestrian units and other parade elements. On parade morning, the various parade entries are merged and dispatched in front of Tournament House.

TheJanuary 2, 2012 Rose Parade will start at 8 a.m. PST - 11 a.m. ET.

The Tournament of Roses Parade has followed the same route along Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena's main thoroughfare and a segment of the former US 66, for many decades. The Rose Parade starts by heading north on South Orange Grove Boulevard, beginning at Ellis Street. At Colorado Boulevard it passes the main grandstands, and the main television and media stands, and proceeds east on Colorado Boulevard. The parade then turns north on Sierra Madre Boulevard. The floats then must travel under the Sierra Madre Boulevard/I-210 freeway overpass, which requires some tall floats to lower their heights mechanically in order to pass under the overpass. The parade ends at Paloma Street near Victory Park and Pasadena High School. Floats continue into the Post Parade viewing area, which is open that afternoon and the following day. In total, the parade route is 5½ miles long and it takes about two hours for the parade to pass by the reviewing stands.

After the parade, all the floats will be parked at the end of the parade route on Sierra Madre Blvd. and Washington Blvd., near Victory Park, and will be on public display for a day- and-a-half, after the parade. However, none of the float riders and/or dignitaries/stars who ride on the floats will be present at that showing. Admission to the viewing area is $10.

Besides the parade, other Rose Tournament events include: the Coronation Ceremony, a Royal Ball; a Hall of Fame ceremony at the Pasadena Convention Center, a Kickoff Luncheon, and a Rose Bowl Game tailgate party.

The Rose Parade, which has drawn crowds ranging from 2,000 in 1890 to 700,000 in 2011 is televised on ABC, NBC, Univision (in Spanish), HGTV, The Travel Channel, RFD TV, and KTLA. The 1954 edition of the parade was also the first program ever televised in the NTSC color television format nationwide on NBC. The 2011 Parade had a total television audience of approximately 47 million television viewers in the U.S. and it was seen by approximately 28 million viewers worldwide.

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Edited by Mel Fenson from information obtained from web sources.


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