“Gardening on My Mind” author Georgia Hottell
What began as a small effort in 1890 by the Pasadena (Calif.) Valley Hunt Club to promote the city’s charm and beautiful Mediterranean weather has turned into a New Year’s Day tradition known as the Tournament of Roses Parade, which attracted more than 1.5 million spectators this year.
In 1983 the Tournament of Roses Foundation was created to spread its success to nonprofit organizations in Greater Pasadena. The foundation has donated $2.7 million to about 180 organizations.
The parade has come a long way since its early days. Now only a few floats are exclusively built by volunteers; most are designed and contracted out to professionals.
High-tech, computerized animation offers excitement, but the real beauty comes from the roses and other floral surprises. The rules say everything on the floats has to be organic or natural – no spraying for color. Eighty percent of the flowers come from California; the remaining flowers and materials come from other states, countries and even grocery stores.
Accessories used on the floats include cinnamon, coconut, crushed walnuts, celery seeds, raw cotton, cornmeal and safflower seeds. Some spices need to be put into a blender so they can be spread on the floats. Many blenders are needed to reduce spices to a powder, so the organizing committee collects blenders all year long.
All of the flowers need water, so each stem is inserted into a plastic vile. One float may have 30,000 flower stems. All plant material and construction material is composted or recycled after the parade.
Our trip out to California to see the parade was great. We also visited the Getty Museum, the Queen Mary ship (anchored in Long Beach ) and the Ronald Reagan Library.
“May your holiday season be full of delight
and your new year shine extra bright.”