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The Quick 10: The Tournament of Roses Parade

This may make me a total dork, but my favorite part about New Year’s Day is getting up and watching the Rose Parade in my pajamas. I’m really not interested in the Rose Bowl itself at all – in fact, I think I’m swearing off football in 2010 following my painful Fantasy Football loss to Jason Plautz this week. If you’ll be getting up to watch the Petal Parade, here are a few fun facts you can use to impress whomever you’re watching it with.

roseparade1. If you’ve ever wondered how many flowers it takes to decorate one float, the simple answer is: a lot. Exactly how many depends on the size of the float, but to give you an idea, it takes about 20 daisies, 30 roses or 36 marigolds to cover just one square foot. All of the floats together take approximately 18 million flowers.
2. You’ve probably noticed that buds and flowers don’t cover the entire float. That’s because certain other organic materials such as bark, seeds, spices, pods and leaves are perfectly acceptable. Living or dead material is also fine – if a decorator sees fit to use dead roses, that’s totally within the limits of the rules.
3. Live near the parade route but didn’t make it down there? Don’t worry – you still have a chance to see the floral beauties up close. For three days, people can pay admission to check out the floats at rest. But since they are made of flowers, it’s probably best to not wait until the third day – you won’t get the full experience due to wilting.

4. The floats can get quite complicated. Past engineering feats have included small working roller coasters, a car transforming into a spaceship, and a working water slide.

5. The Grand Marshal this year is Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger. He’s joining a very elite group – past Marshals have included Mr. Rogers, George Lucas, Jimmy Stewart, Pele, Bob Hope, Charles M. Schulz, Shirley Temple Black, Kermit the Frog, Mickey Mouse, both Roy and Walt Disney, Mark Pickford, Carol Burnett, and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Mr. Schulz drew a Peanuts cartoon to commemorate his turn as the Marshal, in fact:
PEANUTS

SOPHIABUSH6. Choosing a Rose Queen and her court has been a tradition for more than 90 years. With more than 90 Queens, you can bet that a few of them have gone on to bigger and better things. To date, Fay Lanphier (Rose Queen 1925) is the only person to be Miss America and the Rose Queen at the same time. The year before that she was Miss California. In 2000, One Tree Hill actress Sophia Bush held the Rose Queen title – that’s Sophia in the picture with her court. By the way, if you have time, I highly recommend perusing the gallery of past queens – some of the fashions are amazing (amazingly gorgeous AND amazingly awful. The ‘80s were not kind to most of us).

7. Speaking of Queens, today’s reigning royalty have it a lot easier than gals did back in the day – the first couple of girls elected Queen not only had to sew their own dresses for the big event, they also had to make their own floats!

8. When New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, you’re going to have to wait until January 2nd to see the parade. Why? Well, back when the “floats” were really carriages festooned with flowers, officials refused to hold the parade on Sundays because the noise spooked the horses people used to get to church. Not many people are tethering horses outside of church these days, but it’s tradition.

9. The Tournament of Roses Parade was originally named The Battle of the Flowers. It changed early on when the founder of the event decided he liked the ring of “Tournament” more.

10. Marching bands are chosen two years in advance – so although it’s the 2010 Rose Parade in a couple of days, the groups that will be going in 2011 are already looking forward to it. The selection process is done that early so bands have time to raise funds to get themselves to California.

Has anyone ever been to the Rose Parade, either as a spectator or a participant? Share your experience in the comments, and I’ll think of you Friday morning while I’m drinking my latte on the couch.


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