The Rose Parade Experience

The Rose Parade Experience

It is my hope that in reading this, you will be inspired to have your own Rose Parade experience at some point in your life.  It is my belief that there is nothing more valuable than the rare experiences we share in the special moments life offers.

The theme for the 2018 Rose Parade was "Making A Difference" 

The theme for the 2018 Rose Parade was "Making A Difference" 

Mission Statement

As a volunteer driven, non-profit organization the Tournament of Roses Association brings people together to create premiere events and entertainment celebrating the New Year. The Tournament of Roses enriches the lives of the many people and organizations it touches by providing satisfying, meaningful and rewarding experiences.

The Rose Parade Experience

The Wrigley Mansion (shown here) is the headquarters of the New Year's Rose Parade.

The Wrigley Mansion (shown here) is the headquarters of the New Year's Rose Parade.


1. (adj.) friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests.

From the moment I arrived on Orange Grove Blvd on January 1st to the time I left Pasadena High School on January 2nd, there is only one word that came to my mind about the entire experience, and this is a reflection of the incredible city of Pasadena. That word is hospitable. Everyone, from the patrons to the security were welcoming, friendly, warm and kind, all wrapped up into one exciting New Years Day package. To me, that is what makes the experience more special; the large community embracing everyone. As a group we are participating in a celebration that is greater than all of us, but somehow connects each one of us interpersonally. It fascinated me to no end to discover just how thrilling of a concept this is. It is something that I am determined to practice throughout this year and for the remainder of my adult life.

My seat was located in a prime spot, where we got to witness the floats turn the first corner on Colorado Blvd.

My seat was located in a prime spot, where we got to witness the floats turn the first corner on Colorado Blvd.


Another insanely cool aspect of this parade is how this is one of those rare events in life that anyone can casually approach and enjoy. This applies to watching the parade on the television as well, which I did later that night when the local television station aired a rerun of the Parade.

In person, you can feel the thrilling rush of the approachability of the parade when you get there early and see all the floats lined up getting ready to run the course. There, you are able to get one last look at the majesty of it all before getting to your seat.

There’s nothing more rewarding than viewing the floats in their final form, and admiring all the hard work that went into constructing them so that they are beautiful and perfect-looking to the human eye. Also, discovering the meaning behind each float and theme is a journey in itself, and one that causes you to connect your mind to your heart.

MVB (Most Valuable Band)

The 2018 MVB award goes to the Kyoto Tachibana High School Green Band, who were 24th in the 2018 Rose Parade lineup.

Formed in 1961, the Kyoto Tachibana High School Green Band was one of Japan's oldest female marching bands until recently when the school became co-ed. This is the band's second time marching in the Rose Parade and they are best known for their marching style which includes a continuous dance-style movement unique to their group. The band has participated in competitions both inside and outside of Japan. On several occasions, the band has received the gold medal at the All-Japan Band Festival, Japan's supreme marching band contest which begins with 1000 teams.

They stole the show with their righteous rendition of the classic Mario Nintendo melody. Complete with the coins sound matched with the jump. This performance was just too dope.

What I slowly discovered as I watched the floats go by, was that life is more meaningful when you carry a simple message of love, hope and peace. The floats appear light and airy because they carry with them a picturesque energy matched with a powerful message. It’s one of the most dynamic forces I have ever experienced, and there is no way I will forget the way I felt witnessing time go by so gracefully, purposefully, and meaningfully at this parade.

The Gift of Time

The float that resonated most was Donate Life's "The Gift of Time"

Celebrating its 15th year of participating in the Rose Parade, the Donate Life float is the centerpiece of a national effort of more than 50 organizations to reach a broad audience with the simple, life-giving message that organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives. The float reflects the beautiful hearts of donors who gave others "The Gift of Time," This eye-catching entry takes the audience deep into the jungles of Mexico. Colorful macaws perch on flowering branches, gazing down at ancient fountains and Monarch butterflies. The centerpiece of the float is a magnificent Aztec calendar representing the passage of time; the calendar has been modified to incorporate 44 memorial portraits of organ and tissue donors. The Aztec calendar, an icon of Mexican culture, takes on another layer of meaning, becoming a symbol of life, hope and gratitude. The float riders and out walkers include organ and tissue recipients as well as living donors.

We should be like these floats for the entire year. When you feel like your heart is heavy, recall the lightness that the Rose Parade floats carry. Try to remember to carry yourself like that. This is a change that will leave you with an upbeat spirit; no matter what circumstances you may be enduring throughout the year.

MEPF (Most Entertaining Parade Float)

This award easily goes to The Forum float, with their unforgettable theme, "The Story Lives On"

The forum rings in the New Year and their 50th anniversary as they ride down the 5 1/2 mile Rose Parade route. Since the Forum opened its doors, it has been a place for people to come together and celebrate the music of legends such as Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Michael Jackson, and the Eagles. Throughout the years, the beautiful architecture and infrastructure have remained the same but the fan experience has only improved over time. Across every genre and for every age group, the Forum has been a place for Los Angeles, and the rest of the world, to come together and experience greatness. Both famous and everyday Angelenos cherish the moments of the Forum's history that they have been a part of over the years. The Forum has revitalized the city of Inglewood by creating 250 full-time jobs for residents and generating hundreds of thousands of dollars.

For the 2018 Rose Parade, the legendary Earth, Wind, & Fire performed on the Forum's float.


This is another reason why I believe attending this event is something that everyone should experience at least once in his or her lifetime. The ticket I had was only $100.  It’s hard to believe that is the price of a once in a lifetime experience.

Total for the 2 day package: $115

Total for the 2 day package: $115

Post Parade

But hold on, the parade isn’t over after January 1st!

There is also a 2-day Post Parade celebration that is held near the end of the parade route. This Post Parade went all the way until 4pm on January 2nd. Located at Pasadena High School, it is set up almost like a carnival, so that you may enter, walk around and see all the floats for a final time. 

Walking around, I realized what exactly it was that makes this New Year’s experience so unique and special. It’s the memories that make the lasting impact on your life. And here at the Post Parade is where you get to revisit those memories—recapture how you felt, what you were thinking, etc. Those are the memories that invoke the emotions onto which we really hold. 

The Post Parade helps you recapture and recover those memories, and reflect upon how you want to continue to feel throughout the New Year, where endless possibilities face you.

This experience is extra special if you can share it with the people you love. In my opinion, the Rose Parade is an example of true fellowship in it’s most admirable form. I say this because of how fun this event is, even if complete strangers surround you.

In fact, I became a new University of Georgia Bulldog fan because of the man and his wife sitting next to me, and how wonderful they were throughout the two-hour show.

The Downside

Now it’s time to consider the downside of attending the Rose Parade (and yes, this downside is real). If you decide to brave the temperatures and sleep overnight on site, then I not only applaud your courage and bravery, but I also ask that you share what that experience is like? From what I heard, it isn’t for the faint or weak, and that is a particular experience that I know I am not prepared for at the moment. What I will say is that I know the reward must be glorious. I always felt like there is something magical about waking up into a New Year with the biggest parade in the world right in front of your eyes. Only one word comes to mind: thrilling (if not, chilling).


This year I was fortunate that the weather was pleasant in Pasadena, as the temperatures do vary from year to year. This is probably something I would plan for, and I know the weather forecast played a large role in me deciding to go in the first place. The weather that day and the following day was heavenly divine; it played a large part in everyone enjoying themselves and experiencing the richest New Year celebration that they could possibly imagine.

The waiting is the hardest part

You’re going to be waiting in lines no matter how you experience the Rose Parade. Lines everywhere—to the bathroom, lines to get to your seats, lines to take a picture by the floats in the Post Parade festivities. If you’ve ever been to Disneyland then you kind of know what I’m talking about. But if you practice patience you will have found the perfect way to begin your new year with a calming peace amongst chaos.  That in itself feels like victory.


Security was also a very large concern prior to an event like this, and it would be very easy to feel a rush of anxiety about what could possibly happen, but I must say that I have never felt more secure or protected in my life than at the 2018 Rose Parade. A lot of credit goes out to the police community in Pasadena and Los Angeles, and I would say the most gratifying part of the parade was being able to celebrate, honor, and cheer on these brave souls who put everything on the line to serve and protect us so that we may enjoy the freedoms our great nation provides to us.  In this New Year, I want to do my best to always foster a healthy relationship with police officials and law enforcement.

If each one of us takes the time to care about humankind on the most basic level, and concentrate on the things that bring us together rather than focus on what divides us, the world really would become a better place. Life is a lot simpler than we realize. The key to understand is that everything starts with you individually. Only on the micro level can we start the macro process of making a difference in this world. 

I wish you a wonderful New Year! May 2018 be your best.

I wish you a wonderful New Year! May 2018 be your best.

Don't miss your chance to bring in the New Year in the most spectacular fashion. Tickets for the 2019 Rose Parade on sale February 1st.

Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach