Why The Rose Parade Is ‘Never On A Sunday’ And More Interesting Facts

Before Penn State and USC square off in the Rose Bowl this Monday, the streets of Pasadena will line with hundreds of thousands of spectators watching the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. But what few people know is that the Rose Parade was put on long before the Rose Bowl Game was played.

The Rose Parade began in 1890, 12 years before the first Rose Bowl Game was first played in 1902 — the game was in fact only created to help off-set the costs of putting on the Parade. The first games were originally not even played on New Years Day (until 1916) and weren’t played at the Rose Bowl Stadium, which was built for the 1923 game. The Rose Bowl Game was the first post-season football game in the nation when it was first played in 1902 but was replaced by chariot races until 1916 after Michigan destroyed Stanford 49-0.

This year the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl will be played on January 2, not New Year’s Day as usual. This is actually part of the little known “Never on a Sunday” tradition. The Rose Parade faced a dilemma in 1893, as New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. Parade organizers were afraid that the parade would spook the horses located outside of churches along the parade route for Sunday services. The “Never on a Sunday” exception has been observed ever since even though people no longer use horses to get around Pasadena (or anywhere obviously). This year will be the 15th time the exception has come into play.

The 2017 Rose Parade will feature 44 different floats, more than 400 horses, and 22 marching bands (including the Blue Band). The Tournament of Roses requires that every float must have its entire exterior surfaces covered in organic material: flowers, seeds, bark, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. No artificial material is allowed, nor is artificial coloring of organic material. In fact, the parade uses so many flowers, the 1892 parades organizers once feared a shortage of flowers due to harsh winter storms.

Whether you are watching from the parade route in Pasadena or your couch at home, now you can impress your friends with interesting Rose Bowl tidbits on gameday.

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About the Author

Joe Pickard

Former Onward State staffer, now just a washed-up alum. Find him at the Gaff.

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