The Rose Parade returns amid concerns of ‘tripledemic’: To mask or not to mask?

The city of Alhambra float moves down Colorado Boulevard during last January's Rose Parade.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

The Pasadena Rose Parade — which was canceled in 2021 and had a mask mandate in 2022 — returns Monday without pandemic restrictions for the first time in three years amid concerns of a “tripledemic” of COVID-19, RSV and the flu.

But while though masks are not required, the Pasadena Public Health Department has released updated mask guidelines “strongly recommending” that people wear masks indoors and on public transit regardless of vaccination status, following an increase of COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving.

Officials also released Rose Parade safety tips that encouraged people to become fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and the flu at least two weeks before the event.


“We’re looking forward to celebrating New Year’s events in Pasadena and we encourage people to stay safe and make informed decisions to protect their health and well-being and respect others who chose to take precautions while camping overnight and attending activities,” a city spokesperson said in an email statement.

Southern California was hit hard by the three illnesses in the fall, flooding emergency rooms and upending daily life. Parts of the state experienced an usually early start to the flu season, as the respiratory syncytial virus spread quickly among young children. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is still a concern, and officials anticipate cases will continue rising through the holidays.

City officials said open-air events such as the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game ease concerns of viruses spreading, but they advise people to wash their hands often, stay home if sick and wear masks.

“With rising rates of COVID-19 and other illnesses in our community, we join the Pasadena Public Health Department in strongly recommending that attendees to Tournament of Roses events practice precautions to keep everyone protected against COVID-19, flu and other illnesses,” David Eads, chief executive of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, said in a written statement.

For thousands of people around the country, the Rose Parade is a New Year’s Day tradition. In recent years, the festivities have become a bright spot during the tragedy and uncertainty of the pandemic.

The parade theme in its 134th year is “Turning the Corner,” a celebration of the potential each new year brings. And after nearly three years of gloom, people are ready to embrace that expression.

“Whether that corner is actual or figurative — we all enjoy the opportunity of a fresh start,” Amy Wainscott, president of the 2023 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Assn., said in a statement. “Turning a corner means rising above — alone, or with family, friends and community.”


The two-hour procession will begin at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard. Dozens of floats decorated with bright garden-fresh flowers, marching bands and cavalcades of equestrians will proceed along the 5½-mile route through Pasadena.

People can expect to see themed floats created by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Cal Poly Universities, Enjoy Illinois, Snapchat and NASCAR, among others.