Tournament of Roses Crunch Time Party | Fundraiser Stays Alive by Going Virtual

End of the year event, which raises a major portion of funds for South Pasadena’s float in the Tournament of Roses Parade, will have a new look

FILE PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | About 200 guests turned out for Sunday’s Crunch Time Party at the War Memorial Building in 2019

An uptick in coronavirus cases – both locally and nationally – have forced many traditions to change their ways.

Among them is the Crunch Time Party, a longtime family fun fundraiser bringing in top dollar to support South Pasadena’s float in the Rose Parade kicking off the new year.

While the usual parade won’t be held in 2021, tournament officials have vowed to not let January 1 pass, and instead are saying they will host “a reimagined celebration featuring live-to-tape musical and marching band performances, heartwarming segments about the Rose Parade, celebrity appearances and more” during a two-hour morning show. It will be aired from 8-10 a.m. on ABC, Hallmark, KTLA, NBC, RFT-TV and Univision

Going in a different direction has forced float builders like those in South Pasadena to make long range plans, already looking ahead to 2022 when it can again put a float on the parade route along with dozens of others in anticipation to some sort of normalcy beyond the pandemic.

That’s why South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee President Brant Dunlap is urging those in the community and beyond to get behind a new look Crunch Time Party, minus the usual dinner, silent and live auction held at the War Memorial Building in town, and jump on the bandwagon to help raise an estimated $100,000 for material costs associated with the city’s float that looks to participate in the Rose Parade 13 months away.

“This years Crunch Time Party is being replaced by a 4-day virtual online auction that will start on December 26th at 10  a.m. and end on December 29th at 10 p.m., the date and time Crunch always ends,” explained Dunlap, noting he’s saddened the yearly live bash won’t take place on account of COVID-19.We had to make the call fairly early as the county restrictions for large gatherings were in question. Had we waited much longer it would have been difficult to put everything together.

To take part in the auction site, go to: auctria.com/auction/SPTOR2020

When the year began, Dunlap and his committee never saw the day coming that the format of the Crunch Time Party would be changing.

“In January of 2020 we were taking apart our award-winning float,” he said. “In February we were submitting our 2021 design and in March all of our goals slowly disappeared. Nine months ago I don’t think anyone imagined this is where we would be in December. At least not me.”

Ahhh, the memories of just over a year ago when South Pasadena was presented the Tournament of Roses Mayor Award for its 2020 float “Victory at Last.” In 2019, the city garnered the same award for its “Three Little Birds” entry. Year after year Dunlap, and committee members like him, is moved by the generosity of others. 

Our local community has been very supportive of us even during one of the most difficult years in our lives,” he said. “We are ever grateful to those who were able to give this year. We are also very thankful to those who could not this year due to Covid-19, but have supported our past events.”

Dunlap, who has worked on all aspects of the float over the years, knows firsthand the degree of difficulty it takes to put a float at the starting area for the launch of the Rose Parade each year, and sincerely appreciates every dollar coming from those who give to it. He’s hoping for strong support when this year’s Crunch Time Party auction kicks off.

“Keeping a 100-plus year tradition alive is not easy,” he said. “Many of our South Pasadena residents and alumni have fond memories and great stories centered around the float. We, like all other entities, have suffered for 9-months. We have lost every fundraiser in 2020 except this one and are way behind but like many others we have to start somewhere.”

A pair of other major fundraisers, including a golf tournament and raffle for Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game tickets, were among a series of fundraisers put on hold this years on account of the pandemic.

It just pushes people like Dunlap to work harder to come up with ways to keep South Pasadena’s participation alive in the parade that brings a smile to so many welcoming in the new year. It’s the “family and friend,” noted Dunlap, keeping him coming back to being a part of the city’s float.

“I have made many connections being involved with South Pasadena Tournament of Roses over the years,” he said, explaining he’s been with the organization a total of 14. “I started when my girls were little, took a break, came back, took another break, and here I am again. I have not only learned a lot about teamwork with various aspects of our committees, I have experienced so many friendships and smiles along the way. My grandchildren are the fourth generation of our family to work on the City of South Pasadena Float.”

It might look different, but Dunlap knows the goal of the Crunch Time Party remains the same – to raise the necessary funds for the city float to participate in the 2022 Rose Parade, create enormous hometown pride along the way.

“I think it’s important to keep traditions alive best we can,” he stressed.