The 133rd Tournament of Roses Parade will make its way along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena Saturday, with crowds lining the sidewalks to see dozens of elaborate floral floats, high-energy marching bands and equestrian teams in the iconic New Year’s Day tradition that was called off last year due to COVID-19.
“Dream. Believe. Achieve.” is the parade theme this year, a celebration of “education’s ability to open doors, open minds and change lives.”
“Education paves the path to success with a world of opportunities achieved through knowledge, compassion and determination. Education is the great equalizer,” Tournament of Roses Association President Robert Miller said. “As a community college educator, I have seen firsthand the life-changing miracle that education provides.”
The festivities will begin at 8 a.m. with a performance by Grammy-winning singer LeAnn Rimes, featuring a remixed and re-mastered version of “Throw My Arms Around the World,” created specifically for the Pasadena celebration.
Rimes, who first appeared in the Rose Parade in 2006, will be accompanied by the Rose Parade Dancers, the Mark Keppel Dance Company, Rose Parade Flag Bearers and four drummers. A burst of fireworks will set the stage for the two-hour parade.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected along the 5 1/2-mile parade route down Colorado Boulevard, many of them staking out their spots overnight despite unseasonably low temperatures. In 2019, the event drew an estimated 700,000 people in person, while 37 million people watched the television broadcast.
The intersection of South Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevard will be the base of operations for Rose Parade broadcasters, photographers and media, traditionally known as “TV Corner.”
This year, however, it will be transformed into “First Mile” through a partnership with nonprofit OneLegacy, which advocates for organ donations through its Donate Life campaign and parade floats.
The area extending south and east from the intersection, which offers a look at parade formation, volunteers in their distinctive white suits and 40,000 grandstand seats, will include a large video screen, grandstand pageantry and a media stand.
Some Rose Parade traditions remain unchanged since the first parade in 1890. That includes the requirement that every inch of the 37 floats entered this year must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark. The most delicate flowers, including roses, are placed in individual vials of water, set into floats one by one.
This year’s grand marshal is Emmy-winning actor LeVar Burton, who is also a director, educator and lifelong advocate of children’s literacy and known to generations of children for his role as host of PBS’ “Reading Rainbow.”
La Cañada High School senior Nadia Chung will reign over the parade as Rose Queen, joined by the six members of her Royal Court:
— Jeannine Briggs, John Marshall Fundamental High School;
— Abigail Griffith, Pasadena High School;
— Jaeda Walden, La Cañada High School;
— Swetha Somasundaram, Arcadia High School;
— Ava Feldman, South Pasadena High School; and
— McKenzie Street, Flintridge Sacred Heart.
The parade will feature 17 marching bands. In a Rose Parade first that highlights the theme of education, the Band Directors Marching Band will include 270 band directors from across the United States and Mexico, ranging from recent music education graduates to retired veteran directors.
Other bands include the Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band and the U.S. Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band, including musicians from Camp Pendleton.
Seventeen equestrian teams are expected on the parade route this year. They include The New Buffalo Soldiers, a group of first responders who present a historical representation of the 10th Regiment, Company H of the U.S. Cavalry, formerly enslaved individuals who served as soldiers but received little recognition for their sacrifice.
The Norco Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team, an all-women, high-speed precision rodeo specialty act, are among the other groups that will ride on horseback to entertain the crowds.
The parade will wrap with a grand finale headlined by Grammy nominee Jimmie Allen and an appearance by the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army Parachute team.
Four of the Knights will drop out of the sky and onto the street to do a live football toss from the parade route to the Rose Bowl Stadium. Their descent will be accompanied by TikTok personality Timothy Fletcher, the young drummer who has been making waves on social media.
Following the landing of the Golden Knights, Allen will perform his hit song “Good Times Roll,” accompanied by his four-piece band, the Rose Parade Dancers, the Mark Keppel Dance Company and the Rose Parade Flag Bearers.
Allen made history as the first Black artist to launch a career with two consecutive No. 1 hits off his 2018 debut album, “Mercury Lane.” His two-time platinum debut single “Best Shot” claimed the number one spot on country radio for three weeks.
As the finale ends and attention shifts to the 108th Rose Bowl, the Ohio State Buckeyes will take the field against the Utah Utes, in the latter team’s first-ever appearance in the high-stakes New Year’s Day game.
Seventh-ranked OSU is favored to win against the 10th-ranked Utes in the game that kicks off at 1 p.m. on ESPN. The two teams have matched up only once before — in 1986, when OSU dominated — and some sports analysts say OSU’s players may still be reeling from their bitter loss to rival University of Michigan.
Parade-watchers with tickets and football fans in the stadium are required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative result from a test for the virus taken within 72 hours of the event. Those 18 and older will also have to show a photo ID.
Masks will be required to be worn throughout the event.
The parade’s floats will be on display at Floatfest after the parade and all day Sunday along a two-mile route at Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards. Visitors are advised to carry clear bags to get through security quickly. More details about restrictions can be found at tournamentofroses.com/events-calendar/floatfest/.
Roads will remain closed until 2 p.m. along Colorado Boulevard from Orange Grove Boulevard to Sierra Madre Boulevard and northbound on Sierra Madre to Paloma Street.