New Year's Day marks the 100th year since a float bearing several Grecian-clad young women traveled down Pasadena's Tournament of Roses Parade route. The float, carrying a model of the newly built high school, was the city of Glendale's first recorded entry in the parade.
The Tournament of Roses dates from 1890, when Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club began celebrating the mild winter weather and the abundance of flowers with competitions and, later, a parade. In following years, they invited neighboring cities to join their festivities.
The 1911 float took home a first prize: a silver cup and $150 in prize money, according to information found in the Special Collections Room, which contains stacks of newspaper articles dating back to the very beginnings of our parade participation.
Three years later, in 1914, the city graduated from a horse-drawn conveyance to a city-owned "light service" truck that carried a large globe with a white Dove of Peace affixed to the globe.
In the early years of the parade, residents delivered greenery and flowers from their own gardens to a firehouse where volunteers decorated the float, establishing a pattern of community involvement that continues today.
The city has entered a float in nearly every parade since 1911, with the exception of World War II when the event was canceled.
To celebrate this anniversary, the city is preparing a documentary under the direction of Vicki Gardner, assistant public information officer for the city of Glendale. Gardner said the idea came about when those involved with the floats noted that 2011 marked 100 years since the city's first entry.
"Glendale has produced several documentaries on various aspects of our past, including Rockhaven and Leslie Brand; therefore, commemorating the city's long history with the Tournament of Roses became a perfect choice," she said.
The documentary follows a timeline from 1911 through the current entry, focusing on various newsworthy floats, as well as on some of the individuals who contributed so much of their time over the years.
"The documentary will cover how the float designs are selected, construction and decorating, and will conclude with images of Glendale's 2011 'Say Cheese,'" she added.
Each year presents different challenges to the float makers, but one of the largest ongoing challenges to the community has been funding the float.
Shortly before New Year's Day 1921, the Glendale Evening News appealed for help from their readers. With the event just a couple of weeks away, the city's governing body, the Board of Trustees, decided there wasn't enough money in the city's advertising and promotion fund and they called on citizens to finance the float.
A committee, formed by the Greater Glendale Development Assn. and the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, took over planning the float, and the newspaper donated space to raise funds.
"If the people do not give liberally, the float will reflect that; it will be a cheap affair. It will look like a joke beside the magnificent floats entered by other communities," said the writer for the Independent on Dec. 13, 1920.
Money came flowing in and Glendale's 1921 float took home a first prize.
John Hamell lived on Sylvan Lane from 1946 to 1950. He recalled visiting with the neighbor next door who rented a room from Mrs. Chandler, "the owner of the very large property behind us. He used to come up to our back fence and talk to us. When we got older, our father told us that the man was Harrison Ford, an actor from silent films. My father and grandfather both worked at Paramount Studios, and I think Ford must have enjoyed talking about 'old Hollywood' with my father."
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