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Home > News Briefs > Rose Parade Never On Sunday

"Never on Sunday" tradition pushes 2012 Rose Parade to January 2nd


PASADENA, Calif. (Dec. 27, 2011) — The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade is widely known as "America's New Year Celebration." So there is naturally some confusion every few years when the Rose Parade is scheduled not on January 1st, but on January 2nd. The tradition dates back to 1893 and it all started because of ... the horses.

Pasadena Tournament of Roses Marching.com received a question this week about why this year's parade is a day later than usual, so we asked the Tournament of Roses for more information. Here's a look at the history and origins of the tradition.

Never on Sunday

More than a century-old, the Tournament of Roses is a tradition full of traditions, and part of that tradition means never holding the New Year festivities on a Sunday. In 1893, the first time New Year's Day fell on a Sunday for Tournament organizers, the "Never on Sunday" policy came into being. That year, officials decided to move Tournament of Roses events to January 2nd in order to avoid frightening horses tethered outside local churches and thus interfering with worship services.

As a result of this reverent gesture, speculation abounds as to the rare instances of rainfall on New Year's Day (only 10 times in Rose Parade history), prompting some to ask the Tournament about its special pact with a "friend upstairs."

2012 will mark the 18th time the parade has been moved to Monday. Following are all the years in Tournament of Roses history in which New Year's Day fell on Sunday:
1930 San Diego Army Navy Academy Band
  • 1893
  • 1899
  • 1905
  • 1911
  • 1922
  • 1928
  • 1933
  • 1939
  • 1950
  • 1956
  • 1961
  • 1967
  • 1978
  • 1984
  • 1989
  • 1995
  • 2006
  • 2012

Winter Paradise

The first Tournament of Roses was staged in 1890 by members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club, former residents of the East and Midwest eager to showcase their new home's mild winter weather.

"In New York, people are buried in snow," announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting. "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

More than 2,000 people turned out on New Year's Day to watch a parade of flower-covered carriages, followed by foot races, polo matches and tugs-of-war on the town lot.

1894 Rose Parade Entrant During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats. The games on the town lot (which was re-named Tournament Park in 1900) included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant (the elephant won). Reviewing stands were built along the Parade route, and Eastern newspapers began to take notice of the event. In 1895, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the festival, which had grown too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle.

The Parade Came First

In 1902, the Tournament of Roses decided to enhance the day's festivities by adding a football game — the first post season college football game ever held. Stanford University accepted the invitation to take on the powerhouse University of Michigan, but the West Coast team was flattened 49-0 and gave up in the third quarter. The lopsided score prompted the Tournament to give up football in favor of Roman-style chariot races. In 1916, football returned to stay.

The Tournament of Roses has come a long way since its early days. The Rose Parade's elaborate floats now feature high-tech computerized animation and exotic natural materials from around the world. Although a few floats are still built exclusively by volunteers from their sponsoring communities, most are built by professional float building companies and take nearly a year to construct.

Producing the Rose Bowl Game and the Rose Parade, the Tournament of Roses has collaborated with organizations worldwide to bring to the world a festival that is like none other — a festival which has become known to many as America's New Year Celebration.


Related stories: Iraq war veteran J.R. Martinez named 2012 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal, Tournament of Roses Bandfest Schedule and Featured Event Profile: Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade


The Pasadena Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that annually hosts the Rose Parade® presented by Honda, Rose Bowl Game® presented by VIZIO and various associated events. The 123rd Rose Parade themed Just Imagine will take place Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, at 8 a.m. (PST) featuring majestic floral floats, high-stepping equestrian units and spirited marching bands. Following the Rose Parade, the 98th Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO will kick off at 2:10 p.m. (PST) and feature an exciting match-up between two of the top collegiate football teams in the nation. For additional information on the Tournament of Roses visit the official website at www.tournamentofroses.com.


Text and images courtesy of Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

Copyright 2011 Marching.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published or redistributed without permission.


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