For only the fourth time in 130 years, there was no New Year’s Day procession of floral-laden floats along Colorado Boulevard, with the Rose Parade falling victim to health protocols imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the parade sidelined, the Tournament of Roses offered viewers a televised special, titled “The Rose Parade’s New Year Celebration,” featuring musical performances, celebrity appearances, a look back at past parade entries and a peek behind the scenes of how the floats are made.
The program aired on ABC, Hallmark Channel, KTLA, NBC and RFD-TV and included musical performances from Sheryl Crow, Mickey Guyton, Tori Kelly, Lady A, Rascal Flatts and The War and Treaty.
Additionally, celebrity guest appearances included longtime “voice of the Dodgers” Vin Scully, singer-songwriter, rapper, actor and record producer Daddy Yankee, actress Shanola Hampton, Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, 2004 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Matt Leinart, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner Rita Moreno, actress Dascha Polanco, and past Rose Parade grand marshals Emeril Lagasse and Gary Sinise.
The special also featured marching band performances, segments about the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl Game football highlights, equestrians, spectacular floats from years past, a behind-the-scenes look into the making of a float, and New Year’s wishes from fans around the world.
It remains available for streaming on several media sites including KTLA at ktla.com/community/watch-the-rose-parades-new-year-celebration-presented-by-honda.
The Tournament of Roses announced in July that the parade would be scrubbed due to restrictions on public gatherings.
“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,” Bob Miller, president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, said in a statement at the time.
It’s only the fourth time since 1891 that the parade has been canceled, with the three previous cancellations occurring during the wartime years of 1942, 1943 and 1945.
Although the New Year’s Day tradition was still months away when the cancellation was announced, planning for the elaborate floral floats — and arranging for the often international travel of participating marching bands and equestrian groups — is a nearly yearlong process, necessitating an early decision on whether to hold the event.
Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek called the decision “extremely disappointing.”
“However, we also know that we must act responsibly to protect our community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tornek said. “We look forward to working with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses on their re-imagined New Year celebration, as well as the return of the Rose Parade on January 1, 2022.”