The word “feasibility” is not often used when planning the Rose Parade, which has been held on January 1 for 131 years, missing only ’42, 43, and ‘45 during WW II. The television audience runs from 35 - 45 million viewers (only 19 million watch the Rose Bowl Game). 5000 band members are anticipating January 1 and practicing all year. 3000 professional decorators are looking forward to the job. Dr. Bob “Grinch” Miller could smell the disappointment.
On the other hand, 700,000 participants and spectators from all over the world would be there, with 30,000 crowded into the grandstand on the first turn at Colorado Blvd. Thousands of tubas, bugle, and clarinets would be blowing their hearts and lung contents down the boulevard. US marching bands and foreign bands began to call with their declines. American Honda, the sponsor for the past 10 years, was fearful of sponsoring an unhealthy event. Doctors’ models of the event estimated 12,000 infections could be spread - but the numbers could easily be much worse. They would know better by November, they said, but it was only March now.
A decision to cancel had to be made by July 1 due to all the lead times required for the event. Some floats cost $1,000,000. When to you start the fundraising? The Parade Committee needed to raise $16,000,000. Band members need $2500 in travel expenses. When do you start fundraising and buy the tickets? Flowers need to be ordered and grown on non-cancel contracts from six months in advance. Participants were now calling with their cancellations.
My brain ached from the pressure after 15 minutes of listening even though we know what decision was reached in July. The Committee reimagined the event as a virtual one and kept their traditional 8:00 A.M. -10:00 A.M. TV broadcast schedule. There was a 200-member virtual band conducted by Kermit the Frog. Many performers and celebrities donated their time safely. The Rose Bowl Game went to Arlington, TX while Los Angeles was in lockdown. The
Teams were afraid of the spike in infections we were experiencing.
The virtual event cost only $6,000,000 and $300,000 “profit” was donated. 25,000,000 midwestern TV viewers did not see folks enjoying warm weather in Pasadena and dream of relocating there. Not all bad!
Dr. Bob is already busy in his Chair role planning the 1/1/2022 Parade of the Roses. “Dream, Believe, Achieve” is the Theme and “Honor Dreams to Achieve” is the slogan. Dr. Bob is working on license issues with Pasadena and finding new sources of Parade revenue beyond the Rose Bowl Game.
Though Covid-19 will have a role, next January’s Parade of the Roses will be a much more normal event, we pray. I certainly admire Dr. Bob for accepting the Chair for another year —hopefully a much more rewarding one. He made the right decision, just as we did to stop congregating at the Faculty Center. We appreciate the new insight we have into the Rose Parade we received from him, even though we are sadder and wiser to hear the story.