Chances are, if you’ve made it out to the Rose Parade bright and early on New Year’s Day, you’ve heard FR Springer.
Now in his fourth year with the Tournament of Roses, Springer — an experienced voice actor, performer and vocalist for the Pasadena Conservatory of Music Jazz Combo — serves as the live announcer for the annual parade, which has shared the traditions of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game with the rest of the world since 1890.
“I grew up watching the Rose Parade from the East Coast in Buffalo, N.Y.,” Springer told the Review this week. “I always thought California looked so beautiful. I ended up getting a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco after my senior year in college.”
Springer later moved to Los Angeles in 1985, working in entertainment publicity and production. He moved to Pasadena in 2007 after meeting his husband, Emmy Award-winning producer Mark Noble.
“In 2017, the head of marketing for TOR asked me if I’d be interested in doing the narration for the TOR event app,” Springer said. “The app allows people around the world to listen in that aren’t at the parade and be a part of the festivities.”
Springer spent about two weeks recording the narration for the app at his home studio, which included in-depth details surrounding the parade.
“I covered everything that went into the parade,” Springer said. “I introduced the floats, the flowers that were used to decorate them, the company that built them, the Grand Marshals — all of it.”
The following year, the TOR decided to bring back the role of live announcer and asked Springer if he was interested in taking that on, which he was.
“TOR Vice President Ed Morales was inspired to bring the announcer role back because he wanted all of the fans standing at Television Corner to know what was going on during the parade,” Springer said.
During Springer’s first year in his new role, he announced the various floats to the crowd. Then in 2019, his role expanded to narrating everything about the parade, from the floats and cavalries to the marching bands and teams.
“My role is to educate all the people that are in the stands so they know what’s going on,” Springer said. “I’m solely there for the fan participation, because nobody (watching the parade live) hears the television broadcast. The best part about it is that people have traveled from all over to be there and they have such a good time. When I’m announcing, I love being able to rev things up for the bands and the teams. It’s really fun to hear the crowd’s reactions — that’s my favorite part.”
With Springer’s focus now on live announcing, someone else has been brought in to take over the app narration. For the first time this year, the parade be narrated in both English and Spanish on the app.
When asked what his favorite part of being involved with the parade is, Springer said it’s the collaboration that goes into the entire process. He works with a team to create a scripted outline and the various points he will cover over the course of the entire parade. Then he does a run-through during sound check on New Year’s Eve day.
The night before the parade Springer goes to bed early, then shows up on Television Corner, located at Green Street and Orange Grove, at 6 a.m. to start his multi-hour broadcast.
“It’s a great spot to be in because I can view everything that is happening from that vantage point,” Springer said. “The best part is that I can see the B-2 Stealth Bomber when it dips over Colorado Bridge, so I can rev that up and announce it for the crowd.”
Among Springer’s favorite parts of the parade are seeing the vintage automobiles, as well as the various equine groups, including the Budweiser Clydesdale.
“The equine participation is another inspiration for me because I grew with horses,” said Springer. “They’re such an iconic American symbol. The people also stand out — just the heartfelt passion that goes into the parade and seeing over a million people there.”
With the 131st Tournament of Roses parade around the corner, Springer looks forward to the growth and lessons he experiences with every year.
“Every year is a new experience and I’m always learning new things about announcing,” he said.
“I always encourage others to come to the parade and just watch. If you can, volunteer and give float building a try. The collaboration and seeing how many people have put so much passion into this is what’s so exciting. The entire day I’m on cloud nine. I love seeing it all come together and everyone’s reactions.”