The Tournament of Roses began in Pasadena, California in 1890, and has run on New Year's ever since. Well, not always on New Year's Day. The Tournament has a "never on a Sunday" deal, struck with local churches, that sees the parade run on January 2 in years when Jan. 1 falls on Sunday. Local lore says that the deal has kept the parade free from rain, but a torrent soaked fans in 2006, after more than 40 rain-free years. (Ironically, that parade ran on Jan. 2, the day after a rain-free Sunday.)
Whatever the day, the parade steps off at 8 a.m. local time (Pacific Standard Time) on Orange Grove Boulevard, just south of Colorado Boulevard. The parade makes a quick right onto Colorado, where television cameras capture the event for two U.S. broadcast networks (NBC and ABC. Boo hiss, CBS and Fox!) and many international stations. The parade marches for five and a half miles, down Colorado and then north on Sierra Madre Boulevard.
Floats retract to pass under the Interstate 210 overpass, then park on the street next to Victory Park for two days of post-parade float viewing. (Bands and other marchers get to munch on In-N-Out burgers at Victory Park, provided free to all participants.)
The parade process lasts about two hours, and involves approximately 100 units, including bands, floats and equestrian units. All floats in the Rose Parade must be covered completely by organic material, such as flowers, seeds, leaves, nuts, fruit and vegetables. The parade takes about two and a half hours to march the five and a half miles.
Visitors, for a small fee, may watch the floats being decorated, up to four days before the parade. Floats also may be viewed for two days after the parade, along Sierra Madre Blvd. near Pasadena High School.
The annual Rose Bowl Game follows the parade, at 2 p.m. local time.