With news that the 2022 Rose Parade is on schedule, Brant Dunlap said it’s time to start working in earnest on South Pasadena’s entry in the next New Year’s Day spectacle.
“Our Saturday vacations are over,” joked Dunlap, president of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses committee, as he looks ahead with excitement, hoping that life around the city’s float will soon resemble those prior to the coronavirus.
In those days, weekends were filled with volunteers toiling long hours on the city’s float behind the War Memorial Building in town, months in advance of the big day of it rolling down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena to the fanfare of thousands gathered along the sidelines and millions more taking it in among worldwide television viewers.
All that usual activity was put to a halt in March 2020 when city lockdowns became the norm. With the announcement last summer that the 2021 parade had been canceled, local float builders were forced to put their tools away in anticipation to a more promising future.
Then came last week when Bob Miller, president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, made it official that America’s Celebration – as the Rose Parade officials have coined it – along with the accompanying Rose Bowl Game would return next January to usher in the new year.
“As we move forward with our plans to bring hope and optimism to the world, public health and safety remain our top priority,” said Miller, noting participants and fans can expect changes without being specific what they will be. “The evolving nature of the pandemic requires flexibility, ongoing adjustments, and mitigation measures to be incorporated into our planned activities. We expect to announce more specific details on the Rose Parade and associated events as they become available.”
What the parade and game will look like exactly, is something only the Tournament of Roses can only answer, but for now just having them on the books in good enough for Dunlap and company.
For the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee, it means a construction crew will soon resume work on a float – “Sky’s the Limit” – that has been put on hold for most of the last year.
“I have sent out some e-mails to specific sub-committees to start the ball rolling again,” said an enthused Dunlap. “We as a committee have started holding our monthly meetings again via Zoom for like we are used to doing.”
The next big hurdle, noted the SPTOR president, will be planning the organization’s annual golf tournament coming up in June. “This potentially could be our first in person fundraiser since the Crunch Time Party in 2019,” said Dunlap. “That’s a long time.”
Crunch Time, a dinner, silent and live auction, was replaced last December with a virtual event and brought in roughly $35,000, about the same amount raised as the live event traditionally held at the War Memorial Building. Other fundraisers like a classic car show and giant raffle for parade and game tickets will also be in the works over the remaining months as a means to help pay for a city float with a $80,000 to $100,000 price tag when combining the cost of steel and flowers.
Now that it is a go, Miller said the 2022 Rose Parade will feature elements that were planned for the 2021 parade, including the theme “Dream. Believe. Achieve.”
In a statement issued by the Tournament of Roses, the 2022 parade theme expands beyond the initial focus on education and will include a celebration of perseverance and strength, science and scientists, health professionals, first responders and essential workers. Further, Miller said the next parade will celebrate the determination of those who travel the path from dream to reality.
“By building a foundation of unwavering belief, our ambitions are limited only by the expectations we impose upon ourselves,” reads the TOR message. “Our lives, the lives of those we love, our community, and even the world can forever be changed when our hopes are nurtured with passion, fueled with knowledge, and sustained with perseverance. We honor all those who reach beyond their grasp in the quest to make a dream come true.”
Dunlap likes the idea that the big event is making a return, knowing its importance to the community. “Our float brings us together,” he insisted. “It allows friendships to be made. It makes people smile. For those who have worked on it, it forges a lifelong memory. It draws people from all over once a year to come to our city and fulfill a bucket list to put a flower on a float.”
Now that 2020 is over, disappointed like others the last Rose Parade was canceled, Dunlap is anxious to move on, doing what he can to put the past 12 months behind him, saying: “We were on such a mental roller coaster.”
When the 2021 parade was put on pause last June, SPTOR had not raised a single penny and questioned if resources would be there to financially build a float. Its cancellation was somewhat of a relief, Dunlap now acknowledges. “Knowing the parade was not going to happen allowed us to relax a little bit and to not panic,” he explained.
As COVID-19 cases continue to drop and Southern California starts to resemble pre-pandemic life, he likes knowing he can call on his team to start the enormous effort it takes to put the city’s float at the starting line for an event that has been a part of the Pasadena landscape for more than 130 years. “I’m excited about the news there’s going to be a parade and game,” Dunlap said. “The fact that the Tournament is gearing up for 2022 helps to jumpstart us to really begin moving on the float again. Prior to the announcement, we were just kind of slowly waiting to hear the next step.”
All it took was for Miller to deliver the good news. “Now we know and we’re ready to go,” said a smiling Dunlap.