The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association announced Wednesday that the 132nd Rose Parade will not take place in 2021 amid the endless complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement from the association, the decision was made in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Phase IV reopening schedule and “after thoughtful consideration of the restrictions and guidelines in place” for curbing the pandemic, which has created worldwide turmoil since it was declared in March.
“The health and well-being of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority,” said Bob Miller, 2021 president of the association. “Obviously this is not what any of us wanted, and we held off on announcing until we were absolutely sure that safety restrictions would prevent us from continuing with planning for the 132nd Rose Parade.”
Since its inception in 1891, the annual New Year’s Day parade has failed to take place only three times — the World War II years of 1942, 1943 and 1945.
Reached by phone, Brant Dunlap, president of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses, said the decision was expected, and added it was just as well. Preparation for the parade typically begins in February.
“We’re not able to assemble as a committee,” he said. “We’ve not been able to work in our containers since March. In a way it’s a relief. It just takes away the anxiety that everyone’s feeling.”
Dunlap said the volunteers with his organization, like himself, are likely bummed out, but “bummed out for the right reasons.”
“Obviously everyone’s safety is the first and foremost important thing,” he said. “I think it’s the right decision. I agree with it.”
In a statement, TOR Executive Director and CEO David Eads said that in addition to the amount of planning required over time, “the construction of our floats takes many months and typically requires thousands of volunteers to gather in ways that aren’t in compliance with safety recommendations and won’t be safe in the coming months. While we are extremely disappointed that we are unable to host the parade, we believe that not doing so will prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as protect the legacy of the Rose Parade for generations to come.”
The Tournament said it still has yet to decide how it will celebrate the New Year, whether it will broadcast a small in-person event or a virtual compilation. It also is still determining how to proceed for next year and whether they will roll over the theme — “Dream, Believe, Achieve” — or create a new one.
“One of the things we don’t know, is the parade theme going to be the same? … I’m sure they’ll come up with an answer in the next few months,” Dunlap added.
Planning for this year’s Rose Bowl Game, which is slated as a College Football Playoff semifinal, is still ongoing and the TOR is working with NCAA officials.
“While the safety and well-being of the student-athletes, university personnel and fans is our top priority, we remain hopeful that the Granddaddy of Them All will take place on New Year’s Day,” Eads said.
“I know that I speak on behalf of our 935 volunteer members,” Miller, the 2021 president, added, “and the hundreds of thousands in our community for which the Rose Parade is an annual tradition, when I say we will miss the joy of coming together and the making of memories. But know that we will not miss this opportunity to celebrate a New Year and healthy new beginnings on Jan. 1, 2021.”
The decision was largely based on a feasibility and safety report compiled by public health experts with USC’s Keck School of Medicine, which concluded that even with efforts to ensure social distancing and face-mask compliance, the event would still create a “high-risk environment for viral spread, including super-spreader events.” The report also highlighted the large risk posed by participants and spectators flying into Los Angeles for the event.
The TOR noted that it was working with broadcast partners to envision and possibly plan a different sort of celebration in conjunction with New Year’s Day.
“Each year, the country turns its eyes to Pasadena for America’s New Year celebration and we plan to deliver on that important promise,” Eads said. “We may not be able to host our traditional five-mile march down Colorado Boulevard, but we are exploring new and safe ways we can collectively share in the celebration, and we look forward to announcing further details about our exciting new plans in the coming weeks.”