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Home > News > 2021 Rose Parade canceled

2021 Tournament of Roses Parade canceled

Invited marching bands can march in 2022 instead

By Ken Martinson, Founder

PASADENA, Calif. (July 15, 2020) — The Tournament of Roses Association announced today that the 2021 Rose Parade scheduled for January 1 has been canceled. Marching bands on the 2021 roster will still have the chance to perform in Pasadena, however, as their invitations will roll over to the 2022 parade.

In a statement, 2021 Tournament of Roses President Bob Miller said, "The health and well-being of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority. Obviously this is not what any of us wanted, and we held off on announcing until we were absolutely sure that safety restrictions would prevent us from continuing with planning for 132nd Rose Parade."

Tournament of Roses Executive Director David Eads added, "Each year, the country turns its eyes to Pasadena for America's New Year celebration and we plan to deliver on that important promise. 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."

Social distancing and safety guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected multiple aspects of parade preparations, from float builders who need their teams to construct and decorate the floral floats, to marching bands who need to learn and perfect their parade and field performances.

Floral covered floats are a signature element of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. Photo by
Floral covered floats are a signature element of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.

This will mark only the fourth time the Rose Parade has not been held since its inception in 1891. The 1942 parade was canceled following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and the parade was also not held in 1943 and 1945.

For marching bands, the chance to perform next year instead of this year is a positive change in light of current health, rehearsal and fundraising challenges.

Jeremy Tate, director of the Gibson County Mass Band representing Gibson County, Humboldt, Milan, Peabody and South Gibson County high schools in West Tennessee, said the pandemic has taken a major toll on their fundraising efforts.

"At this point we have missed at least seven fundraisers that were planned to raise money to help our students attend the trip," Tate said. "I would like to think we still could have made the 2021 parade work, but I'm afraid it would be taxing on our families and communities after what everyone has been through this spring. Our vision for the mass band is to enable as many students as possible to attend the trip regardless of their families' ability to pay.

"In addition, we were planning to bring the Mass Band together for a local parade this spring that was canceled due to COVID-19. As a result we lost valuable rehearsal time with the group."

Rehearsals are also proving to be a challenge for the Waukee (Iowa) High School Band, according to director Chris Strohmaier.

"We held three sectional rehearsals at the beginning of July, following strict guidelines and procedures designed to keep our students safe. Music stands were spaced ten feet apart around a large circle and students went directly from their cars to their stands. However, while I am confident we were able to keep our students safe in that scenario, I am concerned about how we will handle the visual aspects of our program and how we will be able to rehearse safely when the weather doesn't allow us to be outside. We simply do not have space to have everyone inside at the same time while maintaining six-foot spacing."

Members of the Waukee H.S. (IA) Band held an outdoor sectional rehearsal in July 2020 with music stands spaced ten feet apart. Photo courtesy of Waukee H.S. Band.
Members of the Waukee (IA) H.S. Band held an outdoor sectional rehearsal in July 2020 with music stands spaced ten feet apart.

Even in light of significant fundraising and rehearsal challenges, health and safety questions remain the top concern.

"Obviously, we would all like to be heading to Pasadena this December," Strohmaier said. "Our students have been looking forward to this trip since last October, and to have it delayed a year is heartbreaking, especially for our graduating seniors. However, the health and safety of our students is of paramount importance. There is nothing that we do in band that is worth risking a student being hospitalized, so delaying the parade a year is the right call.

"We are in a unique position in Waukee, in that the 2020-2021 school year will be the final year in which we are a one high school district. Northwest High School will open two miles north of Waukee High School in the fall of 2021 dividing both our school and our band program in half. So for us, the significance of the Rose Parade shifts dramatically, from a commemoration of our past and the final year as one high school to a celebration of the future and the opening of our second. Marching in the Rose Parade as a combined band will create new logistical challenges, from finding common rehearsal times, to merging two sets of drum majors, drum lines and color guards, to creating one uniform to use exclusively for this parade."

Even though bands will now shift their planning from a 2021 appearance in Pasadena to January 1, 2022, enthusiasm remains high.

"We are still beyond excited to receive an invitation to participate in such a prestigious event as the Tournament of Roses Parade," Tate said. "I would be remiss if I didn't give a special 'thank you' to the Tournament team for their continuous communication in seeing how we were doing, keeping us abreast of the situation in California, and what they could do to help us in our individual situations. They have been nothing short of awesome and we look forward to working with them in preparation for the 2022 parade!"

For more information visit

Related information on Tournament of Roses Parade.

Float photo by Rehearsal photo courtesy of Waukee H.S. Band.

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