Amid coronavirus fears, another major event in the oddest of years has been canceled.
As the pandemic continues to take its toll around the world, including thousands close to home, organizers made the difficult decision, announcing on Wednesday that the 2021 Rose Parade would not be held.
It marks the first time since World War II that the Pasadena spectacle has been shelved. It was previously been canceled only three times – 1942, 1943 and 1945 – since its inception in 1891.
With “reluctance and tremendous disappointment,” the Tournament of Roses Association said in a statement that its decision was in accordance with Governor Newsom’s Phase 4 re-opening schedule, noting after “thoughtful consideration of the restrictions and guidelines in place as a result of COVID-19, we are unable to host” the parade.
“The health and well-being of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority,” said Bob Miller, 2021 president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. “Obviously this is not what any of us wanted, and we held off on announcing until we were absolutely sure that safety restrictions would prevent us from continuing with planning for 132nd Rose Parade.”
Tournament of Roses officials remain hopeful the Rose Bowl Game will be played, serving as a college football playoff semifinal to decide the national champion. Executive Director/CEO David Eads said its unknown what this year’s college football season will look like amidst coronavirus and social distancing guidelines. “While the safety and well-being of the student athletes, university personnel and fans is our top priority, we remain hopeful that the Granddaddy of Them All will take place on New Year’s Day,” he said.
In considering the options for the 2021 Rose Parade, the Tournament of Roses commissioned a feasibility and safety report for hosting the Rose Parade during the COVID-19 Pandemic. A study conducted by public health experts from the Keck School of Medicine of USC showed “that even with intensive effort to ensure compliance with public health measures such as six-foot distancing and face masks, it is likely that Rose Parade activities before, during and after the event would inevitably lead to large numbers of individuals (many of whom represent high risk groups for COVID-19 complications, such as retirees over age 60) in close proximity to each other, potentially, in some cases, without masks,” according to the Tournament of Roses statement. “This creates a high-risk environment for viral spread, including super-spreader events.”
For months, South Pasadena Tournament of Roses President Brant Dunlap had been asked if the parade would take place in a time of so much uncertainty. It’s a year-round effort to put the city’s float in the starting area for its 5-1/2 mile journey down Colorado Boulevard as millions of television viewers watch the Rose Parade worldwide along with thousands more enjoying it live.
“I feel relieved,” he said upon learning the outcome. “So much anxiety regarding the float, loss of fundraisers and lack of funding have been tough for planning purposes. Now that we have a decision it allows us to plan accordingly for 2022.”
Work on South Pasadena’s float – “Sky’s the Limit” – had not begun, and events like an annual golf Tournament, classic car show, a raffle ticket for seats to the parade and Rose Bowl Game and year-end Crunch Time Party — where most of the funds are raised through a silent and live auction to pay for the estimated $100,000 city entry — were put on hold due to the pandemic.
“No I am not,” said Dunlap when asked if he was surprised by the announcement to cancel Pasadena’s longtime tradition. “With all the COVID-19 restrictions still in place and the rise of positive cases it just makes sense.”
He’d like to get together with the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses committee to discuss future plans but doesn’t know when that will happen, saying: “With the city restricting meetings to essential groups, only we have not been able to meet since early March.”
Cancellation of the parade has been felt by other SPTOR committee members, including Joss Rogers, the construction chair, who said he’s: “Sad, but relieved at the same time. We have all been coping with the anxiety of a shortened build season and today brought some clarity to our fate and has permitted us to focus on securing our personal struggles to ensure a kick-ass 2022 float.”
Added Alan Vlacich, who organizes some of the float’s fundraising efforts: “Tough decision. But I am also a little bit relieved. I don’t know if it would have been possible to fundraise for the float with the car show and golf tournament being postponed. The $100 raffle will be difficult without tickets to the Rose Bowl game but possibility we could have a different prize. The crunch-time party might be able to be modified or maybe even a zoom action of some sort to maybe get a early start for next year which also will be a challenge for fundraising.”
Dunlap explained that it’s important for the committee to look at alternative ways to raise funds in anticipation to the next parade. “We are suffering just like everyone else,” he said.
Donations to the local organization can be made through the SPTOR website. “I would like to thank the community in advance for their continued support,” stressed Dunlap. “We cannot put a float down Colorado Blvd. without our local support.”