The Rose Parade is Pasadena’s premier event, but its 2013 grand marshal admits she learned about it only after receiving her title.
“When you grow up in England and spend all your time in Tanzania ... I hadn’t heard of the Rose Parade,” Jane Goodall said. “It was only gradually that I realized what a big honor it is.”
Goodall is perhaps best known for setting up shop in 1960 in what is now Tanzania to conduct what would become groundbreaking research on wild chimpanzees. Now 78, she remains focused on issues involving conservation, crisscrossing the globe to visit schools and give lectures.
Tuesday’s Rose Parade will be a “wonderful way” to share her mission, Goodall said, given the tens of thousands of people who watch the annual event along the streets of Pasadena and on television.
“It’s an opportunity to send a message to many people who might not hear it otherwise,” Goodall said. “I think they’ll be quite a few people who might have heard of me but might not think about the message I have.”
That message, Goodall explained, is simple.
“It’s up to us to save some of these amazing places that our children today can go to for the future,” she said. “Millions and millions of people making the right choices for the future is going to lead to the kind of change we need.”
Goodall’s global nonprofit, the Jane Goodall Institute, and its youth-focused Roots & Shoots program are promoting individual projects in conjunction with the parade, asking viewers to do things such as donate old clothing, take steps to reduce household waste and spend time outside. Goodall will also use the parade to spotlight animals in need, and she will be accompanied by a “lovely, beautiful dog” available for adoption.
Tournament of Roses President Sally Bixby called Goodall’s background “a testament to the sense of adventure and openness to possibility” represented by the parade’s theme, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
“The theme can be interpreted as a celebration of accomplishment, discovery and travel, of course, but equally valid is its implicit call to action,” Bixby said in a statement. “Dr. Goodall is now an international icon, but it is her passion for discovery and how she has used her celebrity for the betterment of the world that has drawn us to her.”
Past grand marshals include celebrities (Shirley Temple Black, Bill Cosby, John Wayne), former presidents (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Dwight Eisenhower) and frogs (Kermit). Iraq war veteran and “Dancing With the Stars” winner J.R. Martinez led the 2012 Rose Parade; Southern cooking queen Paula Deen was grand marshal the year before.
“It’s an honor and a fascinating list,” Goodall said.
Goodall has turned to another former grand marshal for advice, consulting former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (2006) about the coin flip that will start the Rose Bowl game.
Goodall said she was nervous about the toss — and apparently O’Connor could relate.
“She said, ‘Oh, I was terrified,’ ” Goodall said.
Coin tosses aside, Goodall said she is looking forward to her time in Southern California. Her family will be in town for the festivities, and she’s scheduled to give a lecture Friday in San Pedro with Betty White and Tippi Hedren, fellow animal activists.
“It’s a bit chaotic,” Goodall said of her schedule. “This Rose Parade is quite something, isn’t it?”