Rose Parade inspires others to ‘Dream. Believe. Achieve.’
By Luke Netzley
The Tournament of Roses is America’s New Year’s Day celebration, drawing hundreds of thousands of people from around the world each year. After being canceled last year due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the world-renowned parade and football game return to Pasadena.
“Every January 1, our community, our country, and the world gets to celebrate new beginnings, and this year we’re going to be celebrating healthy new beginnings,” says Dr. Robert B. Miller, president and chairman of the board for the 2022 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association,
“It is a signature piece of our culture and our community. This is an American tradition, and we feel strongly about our responsibility to bring that to the world every year.”
This will be the 133rd Rose Parade and the 108th Rose Bowl Game. Parade spectators can expect elaborate floral floats, every inch of which must be covered with flowers or any other natural materials, as well as equestrians displays and a variety of musical performances.
In January 2020, the Rose Bowl Game saw a crowd of over 92,000 in the stadium alone while the parade was viewed by more than 40 million people domestically and another 15 to 25 million internationally. In January 2021, the parade was silenced.
“Public health and safety as well as making wise financial decisions, not only for the association but for all those who we work with, were the two paramount focuses that we had,” Miller explains. “As we worked through that process, David Eads, our CEO, and I discussed the need to bring in well-known and well-experienced public health and safety experts to help us with these decisions.”
The decision to cancel the 2021 parade was informed by data points and guidance from a survey of over 100 LA County public health professionals as well as a Keck School of Medicine study that was commissioned by Miller and Eads. It was the first time that the event had been canceled since the outbreak of World War II in 1942.
This year the association once again engaged the support of the Keck School and a host of public health professionals. The survey’s result determined that the event could go ahead given that it adheres to the local and state coronavirus guidelines.
“Primarily thanks to the vaccines and the great work of all the healthcare workers that got us through this, there was a sense that we would be out of the dark and into the light in a much more significant way in the spring of ’21, summer of ’21, and fall of ’21 leading into our parade,” Miller explains.
“All of our normal parade preparations have been altered in a very significant way to make certain that we do everything we can to adhere to the LA County and the city of Pasadena public health requirements, as well as recommendations to maintain as healthy a public space as possible for all of our events during that week. I’m proud to say that, through the incredible efforts of our staff, our volunteer leadership, and our volunteers, we are well on way of doing all of that.”
Miller had been a volunteer at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association for 38 years before accepting his leadership position this year. Though his passion and commitment for the Tournament of Roses is tremendous, Miller insists that the mega-event is nowhere near a single-person endeavor.
“This is the endeavor of our 935 volunteers, our great staff, and thousands of other people who bring the parade together,” Miller says.
“There are over 6 to 7,000 people in our parade every year, and behind those 6 to 7,000 people are thousands of others who work on our floats, who work with our bands, and who work with our equestrian units. It’s an amazing endeavor, an amazing tradition, and I could not be more blessed to be a part of it.”
The theme for this year’s parade, “Dream. Believe. Achieve,” was inspired by Miller’s background in education as a community college educator, administrator and consultant for 44 years before he retired as vice chancellor for finance and resource development for the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the country.
“If you have a dream and you believe in your ability, you can achieve anything,” Miller explains. “Education is the single greatest determiner of social and economic mobility. It’s the great equalizer, and supporting the needs of underrepresented, first-generation, low-income students has become a very significant part of the community college mission.”
The parade’s theme not only shines light upon the inspirational work that educators do around the nation to ensure that quality public education is accessible to all, but also celebrates the scientists, first responders, health care professionals, and essential workers who have worked to save lives and fight for a return to normalcy.
“Without the scientists who’ve developed the vaccines and the first responders, healthcare professionals, and essential workers who’ve gotten us through this time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today and there certainly wouldn’t be a parade going down the street on January 1, 2022,” Miller says.
“Now that we are able to bring it back, we have the ultimate responsibility to bring it back as strongly and as positively as we have ever done in the past. And hopefully we’ll take it a notch or two above this year.”
The Rose Parade
WHEN: 8 a.m. Saturday, January 1
WHERE: Begins at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard. The parade travels north on Orange Grove at a 2.5-mile-per-hour pace and then turns east onto Colorado Boulevard. Near the end of the route, the parade turns north onto Sierra Madre Boulevard and concludes at Villa Street.
COST: Reserved tickets start at $60, depending on area