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Letters from America - January 10, 2002


By Dunfermline.info - Fri, 11th Jan 2002

Letter Issue 12
Pasadena Tournament of Roses 2001
The first Tournament of Roses was staged in 1890 by members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club, former residents of the East and Midwest eager to showcase their new home's mild winter weather. "In New York, people are buried in snow," announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting. "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

More than 2,000 people turned out on New Year's Day to watch a parade of flower-covered carriages, followed by foot races, polo matches and tugs-of-war on the town lot. The abundance of flowers prompted Professor Holder to suggest "Tournament of Roses" as a suitable name for the festival.


During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats. The games on the town lot (which was re-named Tournament Park in 1900) included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant (the elephant won). Reviewing stands were built along the Parade route, and Eastern newspapers began to take notice of the event.

In 1895, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the festival, which had grown too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle.

The Valley Hunt Club in the 2001 Rose Parade

The Rose Parade's elaborate floats have come a long way since the Tournament's early days. Although a few floats are still built by volunteers from their sponsoring communities, most are built by professional float building companies and take nearly a year to construct.

The year-long effort pays off on New Year's morning, when an estimated 350 million television viewers in more than 80 countries join nearly one million curbside spectators for the Rose Parade.

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