2021 Rose Parade canceled due to coronavirus, but organizers hopeful for some kind of New Year’s celebration

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The 132nd Rose Parade has been canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, marking the first time in 75 years that the beloved and eagerly anticipated New Year’s Day tradition won’t be held.

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association announced Wednesday it has scrapped plans for the event in Pasadena on Jan. 1, 2021, because of “restrictions and guidelines” imposed by California’s phased reopening plan, according to organizers.

“After careful consideration, thoughtful consideration with the current restrictions and ordinances that are in place due to COVID, and then the governor’s Stage IV reopening plans, we just felt that there was no way that we’d be able to host a Rose Parade this year,” David Eads, the CEO and executive director of the Tournament of Roses, told KTLA.

He cited safety as a concern. The iconic event on Colorado Boulevard draws thousands of attendees each year, along with many volunteers who spend countless hours building and decorating the floats, and the numerous people who are in the parade, such as the marching bands.

“It’s really the safety of the general public and all of our members, our partners, that has to be a priority. And it’s really hard to do this year,” Eads said.

He noted that planning for the parade begins after the Jan. 1 event concludes, with float building typically starting in March.

And the participating bands, which are selected 18 months in advance, haven’t been able to do any fundraising in the spring or summer because of coronavirus restrictions, according to Eads.

“It just really was a huge burden on all of our participants to be able to participate in this year’s parade,” he said. 

This is the first time the parade has been canceled since 1945, and only the fourth time since the event’s inception in 1891 that it won’t be held. All three previous cancellations were during World War II.

The association said it is still looking to have some type of New Year’s celebration that, like the parade, will be broadcast globally.

“We may not be able to host our traditional five-mile march down Colorado Boulevard, but we are exploring new and safe ways we can collectively share in the celebration, and we look forward to announcing further details about our exciting new plans in the coming weeks,” read a statement from the Tournament of Roses Association.

An announcement is expected in the coming weeks.

Plans for the annual Rose Bowl, which is slated to be a semifinal game for the College Football Playoffs, are still going forward.

Organizers said they are still hopeful that the “Grandaddy of Them All” will take place as scheduled, and they are still working with the collegiate football officials and partners as the upcoming football season begins to take shape.

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