Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns named 2016 Rose Parade grand marshal


Ken Burns, an award-winning filmmaker whose many historical documentaries includes a 2009 series on the history of the nation’s national parks, was named Tuesday morning as the grand marshal for 2016 Rose Parade, which will carry the theme, “Find Your Adventure.”

The 62-year-old Burns was selected for the honor by Tournament of Roses President Mike Matthiessen. This year, the traditional announcement at Tournament House in Pasadena was revealed through a documentary video created by Burns.

The Jan. 1 parade is the 127th edition of the floral spectacular and this year’s theme was coordinated with the National Park Service, which is marking its centennial year.


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“Ken Burns is a legendary figure and a great fit for this year’s Rose Parade theme,” Matthiessen stated in a news release. “We’re so honored to have someone like Ken, who has devoted his life to telling the story of America, lead the Rose Parade — America’s new year’s celebration — that provides hope and joy to millions of people around the world.”

Burns’ 2009 documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” which was filmed over a six-year period, won Emmy awards for Outstanding Nonfiction Series and Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming. It also captured the 2010 CINE Golden Eagle Award.

“The Rose Parade is an annual tradition woven into the fabric of America, so it’s such an honor to be chosen as the grand marshal,” Burns stated in the release. “I’ve never been to the parade in person, so this will be a new adventure for me. I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with my family and all the fans of the Rose Parade who will be watching on New Year’s Day.”

The Rose Parade begins at 8 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 1.

Burns’ other documentary series, many of them award-winning, have explored numerous threads of American history, including the Civil War, jazz, baseball and World War II. His next documentary series will trace the history of the Vietnam War.

Cormaci writes for Times Community News.