South Pasadena resident Laura Farber was confirmed as president of the 2020 Pasadena Tournament of Roses (TOR) Association in January.
The new chief executive made it clear from the beginning that she wanted to celebrate something special in the world-famous parade next Jan. 1.
“I’m looking forward to the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in 2020,” she said during an interview at Tournament House in Pasadena shortly after she took office.
She was referring to the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This guaranteed all citizens the right to vote, regardless of gender. It took 80 years to achieve.
Farber said that one of her responsibilities as president was to choose the parade theme. She chose hope.
Referring to this, she said, “I am hopeful we will have some kind of celebration. Whether we will have some kind of float in the parade, I don’t know, but I am hoping we will.”
Shortly thereafter, leaders from the City of Pasadena announced plans to commemorate the centennial. They plan to sponsor a float with the title “Years of Hope. Years of Courage.” Fundraising toward this goal has begun.
Last month, Farber discovered that her own city of South Pasadena had also selected the theme for its 2020 float.
The South Pasadena Tournament of Roses (SPTOR) Committee announced its selection March 5 on Facebook. This was after the TOR had accepted its design proposal. South Pasadena’s float is titled “Victory at Last.”
“The entry is a special one,” the announcement read, “and it was designed by last year’s float designer Mike Mera.” His design won the 2019 Mayor Award.
“I’m so excited,” Farber said after she was notified of the selection. She displayed a rough sketch on her phone that a member of the committee had sent her.
“Pasadena will have a commercially built float,” she said, “and ours will be self-built.”
The idea for a 19th Amendment-themed South Pasadena float began several years ago.
“Laura [Farber] challenged us three years ago,” said SPTOR Floral Director Chris Duenas-Metcalf at the April 2 monthly Committee meeting.
Since Farber is a resident of the city and longtime member of the TOR, he said, she had visited the South Pasadena float construction site at the War Memorial Building over the years. She has gotten to know the crew.
Duenas-Metcalf said that when Farber was elected to the Executive Committee of the TOR in 2012, she was on track to become president. She has had time to decide what she wanted during her year, he said.
“It’s always been about hope for her,” he said, “and she asked us to consider women’s suffrage.”
“However,” he added, “in no way was it a shoe-in. We were looking for the best float.”
He said five proposals were considered. Three came from the committee’s archives, he said, and two were new.
“All were submitted [to SPTOR judges] without names or identifiable information,” Duenas-Metcalf said, “so there was an equal playing field for all the designs.”
Design Chair Paul Abbey, who was also attending the meeting, said, “I fell in love with the float the second I saw it.”
However, he said, the draft sketch will be revised over the next few weeks.
“Modifications and animation are being discussed,” he said.
Duenas-Metcalf said the float will contain items of jewelry and a hat.
“Women at that time had to reach out to others in silence,” he said. “The best was to communicate your support for women’s suffrage to other women was through clothing.”
Images of Susan B. Anthony and other leaders in the suffrage movement will also be featured, he said. The final design is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.