Rose Parade Float Rules

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The Pasadena Tournament of Roses, also known as the Rose Parade, is normally held on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. The tournament is postponed to January 2 if New Year's Day falls on a Sunday. It was started in 1890 as more of a festival to showcase the beauty and great weather of California. In 1902, the Tournament of Roses added a football game, now known as the Rose Bowl, to the festivities.

The Tournament of Roses is known for its elaborate floats that are constructed by both volunteers and professional float builders. According to RoseBowlHistory.org, it takes about “60 volunteers working 10 hours a day for 10 days to decorate one float.”

Float Covering

Rules require that “every inch of the float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds, or bark," according to tournamentofroses.com. Because of the perishable nature of the materials, the final stages of decorating do not occur until the days immediately after Christmas. Although not necessary, float decorators commonly place the more delicate flowers in small vials of water to help retain their beauty.

Parade Route

All floats are required to follow the parade route, which is about 5 1/2 miles long. It takes the floats about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.

Float Size

There are no official height and size limitations for floats; however, all floats must be able to fit or collapse underneath the Sierra Madre/I-210 freeway overpass, which is along the natural parade route.

In the 2004 Tournament of Roses, Disney sponsored a float that towered nearly 100 feet tall. Normal floats are not nearly that tall; at the 2010 parade, the tallest float stood at 60 feet tall, and the longest float measured at 114 feet long.

Theme

Floats are required to abide by the overall theme for the year, which is set by the tournament committee. Commercial groups may integrate their product; however, floats should be a message of “goodwill.” The tournament’s design committee reviews and approves each float design prior to construction. (For a list of past parade themes, visit NationMaster.com; see "Resources" below.)

Application

Because of the popularity of the Tournament of Roses, spots fill quickly. The tournament committee suggests that those interested in participating apply 9 to 12 months in advance. There is no application fee; however, a participation fee will be accessed once a group accepts the invitation to participate in the parade; non-commercial groups are charged $3,700, and commercial groups are charged $6,250.

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