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Rose Parade 2015.
Photograph: Michael JulianoRose Parade

The Rose Parade is canceled for the first time since WWII

It’ll be only the fourth time since 1891 the parade hasn’t occurred.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

The stream of old cars, the camping setups, the torrent of marshmallows and shaving cream: There’s so much to Pasadena’s annual Rose Parade before the marching bands, horses and florally-decorated floats even begin to tackle the five-mile route. But next year, there’ll be none of that along Colorado Boulevard for what would’ve been the 132nd Rose Parade.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Tournament of Roses said that, in accordance with California’s reopening plans, it would be unable to host the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day 2021. The Rose Bowl Game, however, is still on (it’s unclear at this point if fans will be able to attend by then).

The organizing committee said it was making the decision due to the ongoing restrictions in place as a result of Covid-19 as well as the fact that we appear to be far off from the fourth stage of Governor Gavin Newsom’s reopening schedule, a stage that would allow for the resumption of large gatherings (Newsom said in June that the state won’t be moving forward with its reopening plans “anytime soon”).

The will mark only the fourth time that the parade has been canceled since its inception in 1891. The other three times all occurred during World War II: 1942, 1943 and 1945. It’s not the only major, long-running event on public streets to be canceled—L.A. Pride and West Hollywood’s Halloween Carnaval have both been scrapped this year—but it’s certainly the furthest out.

“The health and well-being of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority,” said Bob Miller, president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. “Obviously this is not what any of us wanted, and we held off on announcing until we were absolutely sure that safety restrictions would prevent us from continuing with planning for 132nd Rose Parade.”

If you’re checking your calendar, you might be thinking “but it’s only July and the parade happens in January.” However, the Tournament of Roses says that planning for the parade often begins in February; float construction takes months and all of the participating bands and equestrian units require advance planning, as well. They also didn’t make this decision on a whim. After consulting with experts from USC’s Keck School of Medicine, they found that even with intensive mask-wearing and social-distancing protocols, the parade “creates a high-risk environment for viral spread, including super-spreader events,” on top of all of the global travel it would incur.

As far as an in-person parade, you’ll have to wait until January 1, 2022. But the Tournament of Roses says it’s working on something for the 2021 edition—be it a broadcast special or otherwise—that they’ll share details about “in the coming weeks.”

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