Local leaders told Pasadena Now that the cancellation of the Rose Parade will not just hurt the local economy, but will have a far-reaching impact throughout the region.
According to Chamber of Commerce President Paul Little the parade brings in about $268 million every year and this year would have provided a much needed shot in the arm for restaurants and hotels forced to shut down due to the Coronavirus.
“Two of our hotels are still closed,” Little said. “The hotels and the restaurants and the shops and the tour companies and Sharp Seating sells tickets. All of those folks are going to see virtually no income where they usually see their strongest week of the year.”
One study conducted after the 2013 parade by a Los Angeles-based research and consulting firm Micronomics revealed that the parade and Rose Bowl Game led to $306 million in spending in L.A. County. In fact, the parade’s financial contribution to L.A. County was more than the Grammy Awards according to report.
“The real economic impact of losing the parade is to the business community in Pasadena and the region,” said Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian. “The lower wage earners that are paid to set up and take down bleachers, the extra staff hotels, banquet facilities and restaurants hire to accommodate larger crowds and events will all have few earning opportunities.”
“But again, the reality is that many of those jobs or opportunities are already lost because those same locations cannot host any large-scale attended events such as weddings, parties, etc. The tourists that come into town do not just recreate or stay in Pasadena. They go to theme parks, the beach, and other locations. They fill hotels all around Southern California and not just in Pasadena.”
Derderian described Pasadena as a destination during the holidays.
“Between family vacations, holiday shopping and parade/game attendees, there is significant revenue generated for the hospitality, restaurant, entertainment and sports venues.”
“Unfortunately, in this current climate, the city and the businesses have forecasted this impact but the health and welfare of our community is paramount and we support the decision to not host the 2021 Parade,” Derderian said. “Events are being canceled but the Rose Parade is the granddaddy of them all! We value our relationship and ongoing coordination with the Tournament of Roses and are here to support any alternate plans they are considering.”
This year marks the first peacetime cancellation of the parade, which decades ago was canceled three times in 1942, 1944 and 1945 after the attack on Pearl Harbor forced the nation into World War II.
In all but 1942, the Rose Bowl Game was still held. So far this year, no decision has been made on college football.
“The parade plays such an important role in not only Pasadena, but in the region,” said Councilmember and Mayoral Candidate Victor Gordo. “And it’s not just an economic role, you know, it’s a reminder to all of us how special Pasadena is. It’s an opportunity for all of us to celebrate the incoming New Year from a point of rejuvenation. Yes, there’s a tremendous economic impact to Pasadena and to the region. Hotels, businesses, tour guides all will be affected, but the parade will come back. The parade has a long history of playing an important role in all of our lives, whether it’s direct or just an opportunity to celebrate together. It will happen again.”
The cancellation could not come at a worse time.
The recent shutdowns have left many restaurants on the brink of closing. The city went to great lengths last weekend to usher in outdoor dining in alleys, on sidewalks, and across barricaded traffic lanes, but the effort may not be enough to save many of the eateries.
One local restaurant said although last weekend they did their best sales numbers since the pandemic began, their revenue fell far short of a typical pre-pandemic Saturday night.
Several local restaurants have already closed down, including Kabuki in Old Pasadena which Pasadena Now reported Wednesday had been permanently shuttered late last week.
“I think the Tournament of Roses made the right decision and I applaud them for putting health and safety before tradition, but this hurts everyone,” said former restaurateur Robin Salzar. “This hurts everyone involved from the hundreds of Tournament of Roses volunteers, and the thousands of visitors in the city, the hotels and restaurants that we all know sorely need this revenue and the sales tax and, the hotel taxes that the city needs.”
“People don’t just visit Pasadena during the lead up to the parade. They also visit other parts of the region and spend money there.”
Mayor Terry Tornek said the cancellation was not just a financial loss, but a cultural loss.
“It certainly has a significant impact in certain businesses,” Tornek said. “The hotels, the restaurants are most notable, but, it’s more. I think as important as the financial impact, I think is a cultural impact and the almost spiritual impact it has on the community and morale in the community. It’s something that families look forward to year after year and they build generational behaviors around it. You know, family outings, sleeping out in Colorado Boulevard…they build their New Year celebrations around it. I think the cultural impact is at least as significant as the financial impact.”
“There won’t be a parade on January 1, 2021, but there will be in 2022 and we’ll just have to look forward to that and enjoy it even more.”