BURBANK: THEN & NOW
Today, nearly one million people are attending, and millions more
around the world are watching on television, the 114th annual
Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade.
Burbank has participated in this tradition since 1914, with its
first entry for the float titled “Goddess of Plenty,” which won a
prize. After World War I, Burbank resumed its participation in the
parade. Not even the Great Depression could stop Burbank from
participating in the parade, but instead of floats, Burbank entered
decorated cars in 1930 and 1931. In 1932, Burbank changed pace and
entered the parade with the Burbank Municipal Band, the only time
Burbank participated in the parade with a band. The tradition of the
parade was again interrupted by World War II, but Burbank’s
participation resumed again in 1947. The theme of the 1964 parade was
“Symbols of Freedom” and Burbank titled its float “President Goes to
the Prom,” commemorating John F. Kennedy’s previous visit to the John
Burroughs High School prom. Burbank won a prize for that entry.
Burbank has participated in the parade every year since 1950, with
this year’s entry of “Bathtime Friends.”
Burbank has also been very successful in frequently winning awards
at the parade. Burbank’s entry in the 1938, 1939, 1956, 1958 and 1961
parades won the Sweepstakes award. In 1975, 1977, 1982, 1992 and
1995, Burbank won the Founder’s Trophy. The floats entered in 1968
and 1972 won the Grand Marshall’s award, while The Red Rose award was
won in 1970 and 1974. In 1998 and 2000, Burbank came home with the
Mayor’s Trophy and the Volunteers’ Trophy in 1996. In 1997, the
Burbank entry won the coveted Float Builders of the Year award.
Burbank has continued to win various awards over the years, but the
greatest award for the volunteers seems to be the sense of
accomplishment, pride and community spirit which has come with every
The continuity of Burbank’s participation in the parade requires a
great deal of work. Ensuring that a float is ready to go down
Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Day requires the Burbank Tournament
of Roses Assn. begin work on the next float almost immediately after
New Year’s Day. The public is invited to submit ideas for the design
of the float as soon as the theme of the parade is announced. The
board of directors of the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn. selects
several designs and presents them to the general membership for final
Detailed plans of the float are then drawn up and reviewed to
ensure the structural integrity of the float. By May, the
construction of the float begins and takes considerable time. Fresh
flowers are ordered in the fall and decoration of the float begins
Dec. 26. Once the float is finished, it begins its journey on surface
streets to Pasadena with a police escort. The Burbank Tournament of
Roses Assn.'s consistent participation in the parade is unique
because it is one of only six organizations that enter self-built
floats and is staffed entirely by volunteers. A majority of the
floats are constructed by professional float-building companies.
To volunteer, contribute or to get an entry form for next year’s
float design contest, go to www.burbankrose- float.com or call
The tradition of Burbank’s entry into the Pasadena Tournament of
Roses parade is a remarkable achievement when you consider the
challenges and hurdles that must be overcome.
The cooperation and hard work of the Burbank Tournament of Roses
Assn., the City of Burbank and the tireless volunteers embodies the
true spirit of our community.
* CRAIG BULLOCK is the chairman of the Burbank Heritage
Commission. Reach him at BrbnkHeritageCom@aol.com.