It was a day that started out so promising for South Pasadena Tournament of Roses officials after learning their entry in the 2019 Rose Parade had won the coveted Mayor Award, going to the most outstanding float from a participating city.
When the 6 a.m. announcement came from Tournament of Roses headquarters the morning of January 1, 2019 that South Pasadena had captured the prestigious honor, a loud roar was heard from the local float builders, those who labored for months working on the float, excited by the big news.
“Ecstatic,” said a beaming Chris Colburn after hugging those around him on the footsteps of the Tournament House on Orange Grove Boulevard. “There’s nothing out there that can beat this feeling.”
What also happened that same morning deeply saddened members of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses committee and astounded many in the community after learning that the city’s entry, following all that work and all those hundreds of volunteer hours, was stuck behind a broken down float ahead of it and, painfully, was not seen by television viewers from around the world and thousands more down the parade route as a result of the major mishap.
Near the finish of the two-hour parade the Chinese American Heritage Foundation float, entitled “Harmony Through Union,” stopped when a fire ignited on board just ahead of South Pasadena’s entry, causing a 25-minute delay.
The Chinese Foundation float had to be towed to the finish and by the time South Pasadena’s floral display set out on its path down Colorado Boulevard much of the crowd had already dispersed, believing the parade was over.
South Pasadena’s entry – “Three Little Birds” – was among several floats and bands backed up behind the stalled float as confused spectators spilled onto the parade route. After the delay, the city’s float rolled safely to the finish line long after most of the crowd had left the scene.
News outlets reported that Fiesta Floats, the company responsible for constructing the Chinese American Heritage Foundation float, said an electrical malfunction was the cause of the fire, and explained the float was halted as a safety precaution.
As a result, months later, South Pasadena Tournament of Roses President Courtney Dunlap announced during the committee’s June meeting, “We are getting a very nice little surprise from the Tournament [of Roses]. They are giving us $5,000 from last year. They approved $1,000 reimbursement to pay us back for music rights. On top of that, they waived our entry fee, which went up to $2,500 this year. I’m super excited about that.”
Dunlap said she is hopeful that the Tournament will put out something publicly “for our volunteers, our sponsors” acknowledging the problems that placed a damper on the city’s experience in the 2019 parade.
In addition, Dunlap said Pasadena Tournament of Roses officials have indicated South Pasadena’s entry will be in the first third of all entries in the 2020 parade.
During the June 19 City Council meeting, Dunlap presented a framed picture of the city’s float in most the recent parade to South Pasadena Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian, and formally presented the rendering – Victory At Last – for the 2020 Rose Parade. “If businesses around town would like to display it we can make that happen for two weeks, or a month at a time, we can make that happen, because it doesn’t look too good in a box in my laundry room right now. We want people to enjoy it, so we want to get it out there.”
Companies and businesses interested in showcasing the city’s float are urged to contact Dunlap at Courtneynoel1991@gmail.com