Soccer Great Pele to Lead Rose Parade

Brazilian soccer star Pele, known internationally as the “King of Football,” has been named grand marshal of the 1987 Tournament of Roses parade.

Introducing Pele on Wednesday in Pasadena, Fred W. Soldwedel, president of the Tournament of Roses Assn., said: “Recognized by millions throughout the world as perhaps the most gifted natural athlete ever, Pele uniquely symbolizes this year’s parade theme, ‘A World of Wonders.’ He is a true citizen of the globe.”

Pele grinned broadly as he accepted an armful of roses. “This honor is the same to me as winning the World Cup,” he said, referring to the three championships he and his Brazilian teammates garnered between 1958 and 1970.


‘Think About Peace’

“It is good to have a parade of roses, there should be more in the world, instead of so many parades of weapons,” the 45-year-old Pele added. “On the day of the Rose Parade I would ask people to think about peace.”

As grand marshal, Pele will lead the 60-float parade along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. He is only the second foreigner to be chosen as grand marshal since the parade began in 1890. The first was Thanat Khoman, then Thailand’s minister of foreign affairs, who led the 1967 parade.

Pele, who started his soccer career at age 15 and retired from the game in 1979, now divides his time between Brazil and New York; an adviser for Warner Communications, he conducts soccer clinics and has appeared in several films. He has three children who go to school in New York.

“My 15-year-old son, he plays American football,” he said.