Extravagantly flowered floats are a must-see

Students traveling to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl will witness excitement not only on the field but also at one of the most spectacular and famous parades of the year. The 122nd Rose Parade presented by Honda will take place at 8:00 PST the morning of the game, Jan. 1.

The Rose Parade was founded in the winter of 1890 by Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club to promote California’s mild winter climate. Visitors would come from colder states to watch chariot races, jousting and other games. Because flowers were still blooming in the winter in California, competitors would decorate carriages with flowers and parade through the town.

As years went on, the parade gained national acclaim. In 1895, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the growing festival.

Each year a theme for the parade is chosen by the President of the Tournament of Roses. A Grand Marshal is also chosen to preside over the parade and perform the coin toss at the Rose Bowl game.

The 2011 Grand Marshal is Food Network star Paula Dean. Past Grand Marshals include Walt Disney, Frank Sinatra and John Wayne.

The parade’s extravagant floats take nearly a year to construct, and preparations for the next year’s parade begin just one month after that year’s flowering floats have lost their bloom. The Rose Parade floats are entered by corporations and community organizations. Equestrian units and marching bands are also featured in the annual parade.

Awards based on creative design, floral craftsmanship, computerized animation, thematic interpretation and floral and color presentation are given to 25 floats. Aside from flowers, other materials such as bark, seeds, spices and leaves are also allowed in the design.

The 5.5-mile parade route will begin at Green Street and Orange Grove in Pasadena. Tickets are available for purchase for viewers to sit in the grandstands set up along the streets. Curbside viewing is also available on a first come, first served basis. Parade fans can begin camping out for spots at noon the day before the parade.

Students and fans who will not be traveling to California can join the more than 51 million Americans who watch the parade on television.

The parade will be broadcast on ABC, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA (Tribune), NBC, RFD-TV and Univision.

122nd Rose Parade theme: “Building Dreams, Friendships & Memories”

Start time: 8:00 a.m. PST

(10:00 a.m. CST)

Broadcasting on: ABC, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA (Tribune), NBC, RFD-TV and Univision

For more information go to tournamentofroses.com.