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Every Rose (Bowl) has its Tournament of Roses and Rose Parade

Growing up, every New Years Day starts the same. We would all say, " Happy New Year!" at midnight and sleep in. Once we awakened, my mom would go to Dunkin Donuts to get munchkins and coffee, where we would all sit on the couch to watch the Tournament of Roses parade. This one hundred and thirty-three parade has come to symbolize the blossoming of new potential for the new year. I had the chance to speak with Mandy D, Senior Director, Marketing, Communications & Membership for the Rose Parade and the Tournament of Roses, to learn more about the parade.

1. What do you do for the parade?

I'm the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for the Rose Parade and the Tournament of Roses. The Tournament of Roses is a nonprofit membership organization. Our organization has 935 volunteers from the Pasadena Community who put on the parade. Volunteers started the parade. As the parade got bigger and bigger, the volunteers hired professional staff. I work with both staff and volunteers. Volunteers sit on committees, build the floats, decorate the floats, and conduct day-of coordination of the parade.

My (staff) team handles all public relations and media, including managing the website, building the apps, crafting the organization's messaging, selling sponsorships, and creating the digital tools. Typically, we have a new theme every year. Our theme this year is: Dream, Believe and Achieve. The tournament is led by a volunteer president, often 25-30 years member, who develops the theme. The incumbent presidents know that they will be presidents for eight years, which enables them to create what their theme is going to be.

2. Why should somebody go or watch the parade?

The parade is one of the longest-standing traditions in the United States. For the past one hundred and thirty-three years, the parade has been our way of saying Happy New Year to this country and around the world. The parade began as a way for people who relocated to Pasadena, California, to brag to their friends on the East Coast about California's beautiful weather on New Year's Day. The parade has evolved to become a way for the world to come together to celebrate the potential of the new year in a wholesome, family-friendly way. The parade innovates to allow everyone to enjoy the spectacle via an app to Livestream the spectacle. The underlying thread of why the parade continues is that it has a special place in past and future generations.

3. How has the parade evolved in the face of COVID-19?

Last year we did not have a parade. The organization took a step back and recognized that we were not just a parade. We are America's New Year celebration. The question arises," What can we do to celebrate that?" We have over one hundred and thirty years of fantastic footage of previous parades. We created a great television special featuring the parade and how the parade comes about. We lined up talent like Sheryl Crow, Mickey Guyton, and others to perform live music. Between the entertainment and behind the scene footage, we told stories about what the Rose Parade means to people. We had a story about two sisters who have watched the parade from the same corner for the past forty years. We had another story about a marching band who worked hard to get to the parade and how the equestrian units came every year. In addition, Donate life, nonprofit about organ donation, discussed how being in the Rose Bowl significantly increased donor registration numbers.

(Image courtesy of Wix Media)

4. How does the parade promote sustainability efforts?

Every float must be covered 100% organic materials, but the floats do not all have to be flowers. We use coffee beans, dried flowers, seaweed, coconut, and other organic materials to construct the floats. We volunteer in our community for sustainability efforts to overcome any potential environmental footprint.

5. What's the future of the parade?

I believe that the parade will continue for another 130 years or more. We broadcast on six networks, and we will move into streaming channels in the next year. We will have programs and apps similar to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade's 360 views, where the public can log in and get up close and personal with the floats from around the world. These innovations will allow us to bring the parade to more people. We don't want to change parts of the traditional parade, but we can evolve and innovate to keep people engaged and interested.

(Image courtesy of Image from: PASADENA TOURNAMENT OF ROSES)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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