What To Know About The 2021 Annual Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

By F. Alexander Cooney Jr.

To say a lot has happened since the last Rose Parade in 2020 is an understatement: American society has been in the throes of a global pandemic and a racial reckoning — and that’s for starters. But the past will again greet the present in pageantry and spectacle as a fractured society struggles to divine its future when the parade returns on New Year’s Day.

After last year’s cancellation, America’s single largest parade — with its theme of “Dream. Believe. Achieve.” — will travel along Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard in all its floral glory, just as it has annually except for four times during the past 132 years.

How has the parade continued to be a cultural touchstone through the last global pandemic, economic depressions, recessions, multiple wars, political assassinations and protests?

CEO David Eads joined the Tournament of Roses with a commission to help Pasadena’s longtime event evolve and reach broader audiences. Leo Jarzomb, SCNG photographer

Amid tumult and tiaras is David Eads, the Tournament of Roses Association’s executive director and CEO, who in 2016 came from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce with the specific charge to expand the various audiences and platforms for the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl Game and associated events — in other words, to keep the Tournament of Roses relevant in a changing world.

“Change is not a revolution, but an evolution,” Eads is fond of saying. And indeed, the staff, volunteers and participants in the Tournament today resemble Southern California’s diverse society more than in its white-gloved — and just plain white — past.

In 2020, by the Tournament’s own account, its volunteers were comprised of more women than men, with an average age of 43. The ethnic breakdown of membership was 11 percent African American, 20 percent Latino, 20 percent Asian and 49 percent white.

Rose Parade grand marshals also have become more diverse: Chaka Kahn in 2019; Rita Moreno, Laurie Hernandez and Gina Torres in 2020; and now LeVar Burton in 2022. Comparatively, according to 2019 Census data, Pasadena also has become more diverse with 8.8 percent African American, 34.9 percent Latino and 17.2 percent Asian.

Says Eads: “Everything we do is having to adapt to a changing world and changing expectations. And as an organization, we’re evolving. And we continue to grow in different areas that we’ve never grown in before.”

In recent years the Tournament of Roses has put greater diversity front and center, case in point: the 2020 grand marshals, from left, Laurie Hernandez, Rita Moreno and Gina Torres. David Crane, SCNG Photographer

Racism and Tournament history

For an organization founded in 1890 by Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club to promote Southern California’s year-round warm weather and agricultural abundance, some things haven’t changed. Chariot races, jousting and a tug-of-war are gone, but the popular Royal Court remains, where women are called princesses and from among them a queen is crowned.

 

Margaret Huntley Main, the 1940 Rose Queen, at 100 years old, has been a cherished member of the Tournament family for more than 80 years. As the queen matriarch, she’s held a life-long belief in rose traditions, authored a book titled “A Rose Queen is Forever” and recalls wonderful memories as if they happened yesterday.

Margaret Huntley Main, the oldest living Rose Queen, holds a photo of herself taken during the 1940 Rose Parade and also a Rose Parade program from that same year in this 2007 file photo. Main celebrated her 100th birthday in June 2021, and has witnessed a wide spectrum of change and acceptance in Tournament practices. Leo Jarzomb, SCNG Photographer

But fond memories are not the only ones that Main holds close. In 1939, only white women, Pasadena Junior College students, were eligible to become queen, mandated during gym class to attend try-outs or face sanctions. In protest, Main was ready to walk out with her ineligible African American friend Barbara, but acquiesced when threatened with a double “cut” penalty.

During a 2017 interview with KPCC, Main spoke of the experience: “She (Barbara) was able to walk away without any cut, and it made me very sad.” On racial progress Main added, “I was so proud of the Tournament that they had finally recognized that beauty and intelligence is everywhere, regardless of the color of skin.”

Prophetically, she wondered, “A lesbian queen, a transgender queen. Who knows?”

For several years, Pasadena held its own coronation ceremony for a queen chosen from among city employees. Miss Crown City 1958 was Joan Williams, a college-educated accounting clerk, a married mother of two children, and an African American of light complexion.

After an Aug. 3 Independent Star-News front-page profile broke, city officials realized her ethnicity and revoked her opportunity to ride in the 1959 Rose Parade. Citing specious reasons, the city’s float was abruptly canceled, and Pasadena Mayor Seth Miller refused to be photographed with Williams at the city’s annual picnic despite having done so during her coronation.

On Sept. 18, aside the coverline “Official Queen for a City,” a smiling Williams graced the cover of JET Magazine.

“It wasn’t anything I sought. My name was submitted unbeknownst to me by someone I worked with,” she said during an interview with Afro News in 2015. “Once they learned I was African American, I wasn’t the person they wanted representing the city, I sure didn’t dwell on it because I had a life to live. That was their problem, not my problem.”

Williams had remained silent for decades until a 2013 Pasadena Weekly story resurrected the racist episode. This triggered conversations about making things right, and in 2014 she accepted the city’s apology and an invitation to ride in the 2015 parade.

Pasadena’s Jackie Robinson broke the white baseball color barrier in 1947, but it wasn’t until 1981 that Leslie Kawai, of Japanese descent, became the first nonwhite queen.

Tournament president Gerald Freeny crowns Louise Deser Siskel the 101st Rose Queen at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2018. Keith Birmingham, SCNG photographer

In 1982, Loretta Thompson-Glickman was elected Pasadena’s first black mayor three years before Kristina Smith, the 1985 queen, became the first of African American descent. More than three decades later, in 2019, Gerald Freeny was named the first African American Tournament president, and fulfilling Rose Queen Main’s prophesy, he crowned Louise Deser Siskel, the first queen to identify as LGBTQ and the first to have her Jewish lineage recognized.

“What was important to me throughout the interview process was that I was completely transparent about who I was, about the things that I value, and about the things that I advocate for,” Siskel said during a 2018 Pasadena Star-News interview. “I feel lucky that I was selected by the committee for those reasons. That, to me, gives me great faith in the organization and a great amount of respect for the committee.”

In recent years, the Royal Court has included women of diverse cultural heritage and ethnicity and sexual orientation. Nadia Chung, the 2022 Rose Queen, and members of her court are of multiethnic backgrounds.

Nonetheless, fashion couturière Tameka Foster Raymond launched Miss Black Pasadena in 2018 for teen girls who felt overlooked by mainstream pageants. Laila Ward, Miss Black Pasadena 2021, was among 29 finalists for this year’s Rose Court but did not advance.

“At one point, there was a Royal Court with both men and women for several years. And so, I think that’s something that, you know, is an opportunity for us in the future,” Eads says.

Certainly not in the near term for anyone who doesn’t gender-identify as female, but that too is progress, albeit slow.

A pandemic reset

Although the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2021 parade, a decision informed by a USC Keck School of Medicine study, it also afforded Eads and his team the extravagance of time — otherwise occupied with planning the parade — to examine Tournament of Roses events and determine what could be done differently and what could be improved.

“Typically, we wrap up a parade and immediately start planning for the next one,” Eads said. “So, time is a luxury, and with COVID-19 obviously there were huge financial implications — you know, we really didn’t have very many financial revenue streams — so how do we take an event and reimagine it, keep the quality strong, but maybe reimagine it so we can reduce our costs?”

As the Tournament CEO, Eads reports to a board of directors and oversees a budget of slightly more than $100 million to run the Rose Parade, the Rose Bowl Game and all associated activities and events. The organization recoups those costs and enough to support a paid full-time staff of 35.

Eads also manages a year-round volunteer corps of 935, more than 30 operating and planning committees, dozens of Tournament sponsors, multiple television broadcast partners, the creation of more than 40 floats, the inclusion of 20 marching bands and 18 equestrian units, hundreds of parade participants and dozens of activities leading up to the parade and game. And, he serves as the liaison between the Tournament and the City of Pasadena.

The scope of reimagination that Eads and his team envisioned led to redirecting the strength of more than 900 Tournament of Roses volunteers into a significant community outreach operation. The Tournament and its members contributed $100,000 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and mobilized to deliver more than 50,000 meals to Pasadena area children and families impacted by COVID-19 school closures and the lunch program, among other projects.

Partnerships were formed with Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions, and turkeys were distributed to Union Station Homeless Services. For 50 days, nurses working the COVID-19 testing site at Rose Bowl Stadium had lunch delivered by Tournament volunteers.

“Because they were no longer planning the parade and had the assignments that they normally would have had, that’s where we reached out to our volunteers and said our community needs help, will you help us volunteer? And they completely rose to that occasion,” Eads said.

This mobilization accomplished two of the organization’s five 2018-2022 strategic plan cornerstones: Engage in volunteerism and invest in the community. (The other three are plan premier events, sustain and grow the Tournament and its impact, and promote brand awareness.)

In 2021, the Tournament of Roses Foundation awarded more than $230,000 to 27 organizations in the San Gabriel Valley in support of a variety of community programs. Since its inception in 1983, the foundation has allocated more than $3.2 million to Pasadena-area community organizations.

Relevance and collateral fiscal benefits

According to an independent analysis commissioned by the Tournament in 2018, the economic impact of the parade and game is estimated to be more than $200 million, and the tax revenue exceeds $38 million. Eads has helped guide greater representation of women and minorities among the board, staff, volunteers and committee members.

He’s led an increase in the Tournament of Roses social media presence, creation of a Roses Events app, and he’s leading the effort to develop content streaming options beyond traditional broadcast and social media platforms (like the 2018 and 2019 livestream satirical parade commentary featuring Will Ferrell as Cord Hosenbeck, Molly Shannon as Tish Cattigan and Tim Meadows in cameo as a field reporter) to attract a younger, more ethnically diverse audience.

“What we’ve tried to demonstrate is that we recognize the changes that are occurring in the world around us, and we want to be part of the solution, to be as inclusive and comprehensive as we can be. As an organization, as an entertainment production, that’s what we’re doing,” Eads said. “And we’re committed to that. And we’re going to continue to pursue that, and I think you’ll see that in this year’s parade.”

If television ratings and in-person attendance reflect how well Eads has done, the numbers continue to grow with an estimated 700,000 in attendance for the parade and a television viewership approaching 40 million, albeit skewed to an older audience. By comparison, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City claims to attract 3 million in-person attendees and a TV audience of 22 million.

The evolution of Pasadena and the Tournament is exemplified by the Bakewell family and civil rights icon Danny J. Bakewell Sr., publisher of the black-owned Los Angeles Sentinel, who has dedicated his life to social justice and equality for women, minorities and communities of color.

In October 1993, Bakewell led a protest on the stately front lawn of Pasadena’s Wrigley Mansion, the Tournament’s Italian Renaissance headquarters known as Tournament House, for greater representation of women and minorities within the organization’s hierarchy, parade and events. A generation between, and 27 years later, his granddaughter, Bryce Bakewell, was named a 2016 Rose Princess.

In a 2015 interview with the L.A. Watts Times, Bakewell Sr. said, “It’s great to see the diversity that is represented on this Rose Court, it’s really gratifying. People have said to me that they are inspired by the changes that the Tournament has made through the years. The Tournament of Roses does a great job and I hope they continue to move the organization forward.”

Revisiting the Joan Williams quote is instructive: “We hope it won’t take so long, but when you look at our history, none of it has happened overnight, none of it has happened without a fight. The fight goes on.”


Community perspectives

Question: What do you feel is the most important social or economic issue facing Pasadena and, by extension, Southern California today? Does the Tournament of Roses have a role to play in the process?

Assemblymember Chris Holden, 41st Assembly District

Answer: The past 18 months have been unprecedented times for all of us. Every single person has been impacted (and continues to be), by the COVID-19 pandemic — whether it was the death of a loved one, catching the virus, or facing social or financial hardship.

While we can’t say we’re out of the pandemic now, we know we’re on the right path. Vaccination rates continue to rise, and cases continue to go back down. As we approach the new year, it does seem like we’re turning the corner. Here in California, both the governor and the Legislature are committed to implementing policies that will save lives, keep our economy in good shape, and bring us back to a sense of normalcy.

Locally, we missed the Rose Parade last year and I’m thrilled to see it back. This will surely help small business and the local economy, but the Rose Parade is of course more than just that. It’s a national treasure that Pasadenans take pride in. The Rose Parade provides us a way to celebrate the start of a new year with the feeling of harmony and unity in the world.

The message behind the Rose Parade’s theme — “Dream. Believe. Achieve.” — provides us the mantra we need to thrive in 2022 as we transition to a post pandemic reality. I for one, will be dreaming, believing, and achieving to make a positive impact for our community in 2022!”

Assemblymember Chris Holden, 41st Assembly District and former mayor of Pasadena; @ChrisHoldenNews on Twitter; a41.asmdc.org

The Rev. Mike Kinman, rector of Pasadena’s All Saints Church

Answer: White supremacy is the issue that touches everything. It creates economic inequity, which creates inequities of housing, medical care, education, policing, etc.

Organizations like the Tournament of Roses — and All Saints and the Episcopal Church — need to examine how white supremacy is embedded in and sustained in our history and culture, address it without getting mired in shame and guilt, remove barriers to nonwhite persons claiming power that is rightfully theirs and telling the whole story of how we got to where we are so we can write a new story together.

The Rev. Mike Kinman, Rector, All Saints Church; @Mkinman on Twitter; allsaints-pas.org

Source : https://www.ocregister.com/2021/12/14/rose-parade-2022-theres-still-a-bloom-on-the-rose/

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Omicron coronavirus variant found in multiple US states

Source:MSN

Omicron coronavirus variant found in multiple US states