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Rose Parade Canceled

Pandemic forces organizers to forego festivities for first time since World War II

Published on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 | 10:00 am

The Tournament of Roses announced today they have canceled the 2021 Rose Parade.

“After thoughtful consideration of the restrictions and guidelines in place as a result of COVID-19, and in accordance with Governor Newsom’s Phase IV re-opening schedule, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association is unable to host the 2021 Rose Parade,” Tournament officials said in a prepared statement. 

This is the first time since the World War II years that the parade has not been held. The parade was canceled in 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and was also canceled in 1943 and 1945.

More than 500,000 people view the parade live every year on Colorado Boulevard, and thousands of people party on Colorado Boulevard the night before the event.

The massive crowds could help spread the Coronavirus, which officials are struggling to contain. Because many of the people who attend are tourists, a potential spread in Pasadena could cause infection to spread around the country and possibly to other countries.   

“While we are extremely disappointed that we are unable to host the parade, we believe that not doing so will prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as protect the legacy of the Rose Parade for generations to come,” a statement from the Tournament of Roses read.

Tournament of Roses Executive Director David Eads told Pasadena Now that tournament officials consulted with health officials before canceling the parade.

“It’s pretty historic that this year we will not be able to host it,” Eads said. “It’s obviously not what we wanted, but the health and well-being of our parade participants and our guests, as well as all of our volunteer members and our staff and partners is our number one priority. Unfortunately with the pandemic, it’s just not going to be a possibility this year.”

Weeks after the nation was plunged into World War II by Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Authorities feared that a large gathering could present another Western U.S. target. The game was moved to Durham, North Carolina.

This year the “Granddaddy of Them All” Rose Bowl game is scheduled to serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal. According to Rose Bowl General Manager Daryl Dunn, stadium officials still don’t have clarity regarding the 2020 college football season. 

“We are preparing to have college football at the Rose Bowl, and we’re hopeful that will be sometime in late September,” Dunn said.

The Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Football Game are the city’s top annual events. The joint events bring in a financial boost to hotels, bars and restaurants every year as people from across the region and around the world come into Pasadena.

In 2018 the Enigma Research Corporation estimated the combined economic impact of that year’s Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game was $198 million.

The city also makes money from the transient occupancy rate which gives them about 12 percent on the room rates charged to guests in hotels and motels.

Eads said the parade cannot be rescheduled quickly once the virus subsides due to the planning process involved.

“We only want to put on the street what the viewing public would expect, so it’s not that we can just delay something or put something together really quickly because the situation has changed. It takes months and months of planning and months and months of preparation.”

“In order for us to really put on that parade on January 1, we need a substantial lead up time. We’ve delayed this decision for as long as we could hoping that the situation would improve around the pandemic.”

Although the Tournament cannot hold the traditional parade down Colorado Boulevard, Tournament officials are exploring alternate ways to “collectively share in the celebration of the New Year.”

“The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association will announce its alternate plans for January 1, 2021, in the coming weeks,” the Association said in its prepared statement.

“We’ve weathered storms and everything else,” Eads said. “I don’t want anybody to believe that we won’t be celebrating New Year’s because we still will be celebrating it. We’re going to miss the joy of coming together on New Year’s Day, but we’re also looking at ways to celebrate the New Year and healthy new beginnings on January 1, 2021. We’ll have more information on that available in the coming weeks.”

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