For the first time in history an Armenian Float will participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena California, indicating the presence of Armenians. The Rose Parade, which is held every year on New Year’s Day, is a colorful and interesting event, which started in 1890. Next year, it will be the 126th Parade in Colorado Boulevard.
Many groups participate – schools, organizations, businesses, SeaWorld Wells Fargo Bank, Honda Harlem Globetrotters, the Marine Corps, Cowgirls Historical Foundation, Long Beach Mounted Police, Calvary Fort Hood Band, The Martinez Family, and many more – usually over 40 floats, as well as 20 marching bands and equestrian units. Marching bands from Pasadena City College, Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band, and bands from around the country. The floats compete for 24 awards.
The Grand Marshall of the Parade is picked by the organization and many renowned people have served as Grand Marshalls – Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Earl Warren, Bob Hope, Vin Scully (this past year) and others.
Besides people watching live on Colorado Boulevard, the event is also shown on television, nationally and especially internationally. In the beginning, a few thousands used to watch – that was in 1890 or 1905. During the last 20 years , those who sit on chairs on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena for hours to watch the Rose Parade, numbers over half a million. In 2002 or 2009, an estimated crowd of 600,000 people watched the parade live.
Since television became part and parcel of our lives, many people watch it on television in different parts of the world. The first televised parade was in 1947 shown on KTLA. Catching the attention of the people all over the world, the Parade has become more professional and classier partly because it is shown in many countries. For instance, in 2010, the program was broadcast to 217 countries, one third live, and the rest late showings, including China. A few years ago, actually in 2011, some 47 million viewers followed the Parade in the US and abut 17 million internationally. And the Tournament of Roses website is hit 13 million times during and just after the Parade.
Another important issue is that following the Parade, the Floats are stationed on Sierra Madre Boulevard and Washington Boulevard, near Victory Park are displayed for two days, as thousands of people go tot watch the floats.
Considering all the above it will be an honor for Armenians to take part in this international and global event. We congratulate Chris Chahinian, chairman of the American Armenian Rose Float Association, Inc., for initiating the participation, after careful study and research. The community should extend a hand in this endeavor, because, after all, for a couple of days, in 130 countries the world “Armenia” will be heard by close to 50 million people learning a bit of history and culture as well. It sure is a great opportunity for public relations and making others aware of Armenians. Even if one-third of the viewers remember “Armenia” and part of its history while the commentators speak, then at least 15 million around the world will remember Armenia. Best wishes to the organization and I hope everything will go smoothly and the Armenian Float will distinguish itself.