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'Never on Sunday' for Rose Parade

Century-old tradition doesn┬┐t seem to bother the event's faithful followers.

November 27, 2011|By Tiffany Kelly, tiffany.kelly@latimes.com
  • The Royal Court waves to the crowds during the 122nd Tournament of Roses Rose Parade themed "Building Dreams, Friendships & Memories" in Pasadena on Saturday, January 1, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
The Royal Court waves to the crowds during the 122nd Tournament…

The Rose Parade is an event tethered to traditions — the Tournament House, the Royal Court, and its strict “Never on Sunday” policy.

The policy dates to 1893, when officials decided to move the parade to Jan. 2 because New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. The festivities, they decided, disrupted local church services.

It’s a rule that stuck. For the 18th time in more than a century, Jan. 1, 2012 is a Sunday, and so the parade is scheduled for Monday, the next day.

“It’s a combination of respect as well as tradition,” said Libby Wright, chairwoman of the Rose Bowl management committee. “I don’t know that anyone has ever talked about changing it.”

The rule, she said, shows no bias toward any religion or group and was kept to respect residents who live around the parade route.

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“We do what is best for the city,” she said.

While organizers in Pasadena say the additional day isn’t needed for planning — they run a tight ship — Bob Hutt, president of the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn., said the volunteers like having an extra day to work on their floats, since they usually trade celebrating New Year’s Eve for attaching the final flowers.

Still, Hutt said, he prefers watching the floats roll down Colorado Boulevard on Jan. 1.

“I’m kind of a traditionalist,” he said. “I like having the parade on the real New Year’s Day.”

The last time the parade was postponed a day, in 2006, a storm hampered the event, making parade-goers think twice about camping overnight on New Year’s Eve.

Anita Segura-Diaz, a Pasadena native, had tickets to sit in the AT&T building that year, but she remembers routinely camping overnight for the parade as a teenager.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” she said, she said of the parade’s Monday schedule. “It gives residents an extra day to camp out.”

Now, at 58, she follows the parade route in her car between South Orange Grove Boulevard and West California Boulevard.

“[I] love to see all the crowds, all the children,” she said. “I don’t mind the traffic. I think it’s great that so many people come to Pasadena during this time.”

Devoted Rose Parade fan and former longtime Pasadena resident Nancy Wildanger said she has traveled from the Bay Area to the San Gabriel Valley with her family for the past 20 years.

“We lived down there around New Year’s,” she said.

This year, one of her daughters, a Caltech alumna, is expecting a baby in late December, so they won’t be in town for the festivities. Wildanger, 58, recalled past parades that were held on Jan.2, which she said didn’t disrupt the tradition.

“I think it’s worthy to honor it,” she said. “We don’t worry about if it’s not actually on New Year’s Day.”

Working at the defunct State Theatre in the 1970s, Wildanger said employees kept the box office open to sell hot dogs and watched floats from the roof.

“I’ve always had a wonderful time,” she said. “I’ll be there next year.”

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