Throwback Thursday | In Your Face!

The Tournament of Roses and Rose Parade were born as a boast

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | News | Preparing to ride in the Rose Parade (1899)

Now that the holidays are over, we have time to reflect and ask ourselves the biggest question of all. Why parade downtown with roses on horse-drawn carriages, and later, dress-up motorized vehicles with incredible floral and seed arrangements?

Answer: Because, we can. Or, better put, because they can’t!

PHOTO: Pasadena Museum of History | News | Dr. Francis F. Rowland is about to join the parade

In 1889, Professor C. F. Holder addressed his fellow Valley Hunt Club members: “In New York, people are buried in snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s have a festival and tell the world about our paradise.” Dr. Francis F. Rowland (pictured above) agreed with the idea and offered the name The Battle of Roses for the new festival.

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PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | News | Preparing Guests leaving The Raymond to ride in the Rose Parade

On January 1st 1890 the festival was a resounding success with over half the Pasadena’s 4,882 residents attending. The following year the tournament event was renamed Tournament of Roses.

For a time, South Pasadena had three floats in the Rose Parade: The Raymond, Cawston Ostrich Farm, and City of South Pasadena.

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | News | Preparing Raymond hotel float
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | News | Preparing Cawston Ostrich Farm float
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | News | Preparing City of South Pasadena float

And to this day, the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game are the grandest in-your-face events of the year.

Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas


Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.