Community Celebrates First African American Tournament of Roses President, Hundreds Turn Out

Gerald Freeny, Tournament of Roses President, second from left, is the first African American to hold this position, poses for pictures with some members of the Tournament of Roses Committee and Pasadena dignitaries.Martin A. Gordon, from the Pasadena Community Coalition.Gerald Freeny President of the Tournament of Roses, left, and Mayor of Pasadena Terry Tornek.Phlunte Riddle, left, Sharon Calkin, and Eddie RiddlePasadena City Manager Steve Mermell listens to the guest speakers celebrating Gerald Freeny, Tournament of Roses President, the first African American to hold this position,The Lion Heads jazz band from Wilson Middle School performs for the Tournament of Roses Open House event.Chris Chahinian, left, and Robin Salzer.Ladies from Villa Park in El Monte are guests for the Tournament of Roses open house event.Gerald Freeny, Tournament of Roses President, third from left, is the first African American to hold this position, poses for pictures with members of Tournament of Roses Committee.Guests on the grounds of Tournament of Roses House during the open house event celebrating Gerald Freeny, Tournament of Roses President, the first African American to hold this position,

By ANDY VITALICIO | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

4:33 am | August 19, 2018


The Tournament of Roses Association and other community organizations in Pasadena came out in full force Thursday evening to honor Gerald Freeny, the first African American president of the Tournament of Roses, during a Community Open House and Celebration at the Tournament of Roses headquarters.

The Tournament of Roses said over 400 community members came to the Open House to honor Freeny and learn more about the 2019 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.

“I am honored to be a part of this community,” Freeny said. “And I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to serve as President of the Tournament of Roses. As we continue to evolve as an organization, I look forward to promoting volunteerism, diversity and community support.”

The Tournament of Roses Board of Directors named Freeny in January, leading local civil rights activists and community leaders to say the organization has reached new heights of diversity with Freeny’s selection, considered by many to be a historic event in the history of the Tournament of Roses.

“There are a number of important things here,” Martin Gordon, chair of the Pasadena Committee Coalition, said earlier last week. “Number one is what’s happened with the actual hiring of an African Americans there, and the diversity of the entire Tournament of Roses, which has been dominantly white over the last 130 years. We appreciate diversity at every level, and we’re for better involvement with our diverse community in terms of volunteerism, job, vendors, and the funding of programs.”

As President of the Tournament of Roses Association, Freeny is leading preparations for the 130th Rose Parade presented by Honda, and the 105th Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwest Mutual, on Thursday, January 1, 2019.

Freeny, who has been serving as a volunteer member with the organization since 1988, said he was honored to be the first African American President, and was “truly blessed by all the outreach, and all the support that I’m getting from the community.”

“We at the Tournament of Roses are committed to being diversified and we are making changes, but like any organization, we can always do better and we’re striving to do better,” he added.

Aside from Gordon from the Pasadena Community Coalition, others who came Thursday included Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, Catherine Del Rosario (District Director) and Ann Marie Hicambottom (Field Representative for Pasadena) and on the political side for Assemblymember Holden, Phlunte Riddle, Pasadena City Manager Steve Mermell, Chris Chahinian of the Armenian Community Coalition, and local philanthropist and entrepreneur Robin Salzer.

Other guests came from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Organization of Chinese Americans-Greater Los Angeles (OCA-GLA).

The Lion Heads jazz band from Wilson Middle School performed live music for the audience during the Open House.

In addition to his many years of service in the Tournament of Roses, Freeny has served as President of the San Gabriel chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the Pasadena Police Foundation Board, Pasadena Police Citizens Academy, Pasadena Rose Bowl Aquatics Board, University Club, Pasadena YMCA Board, Black Support Group at Cal State LA, Urban League Board of Governors, United Way Fundraising Committee, Toast Masters and the Pasadena NAACP.

Freeny has been on the Advisory Board of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation since 2016, and is also a member of Legacy’s Museum Committee.

He attended Pasadena Christian School and John Muir High School, and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from California State University, Los Angeles.

Freeny resides in Altadena with his wife, Trina, and their daughter, Erica.