Rose Bowl Parade continues its ‘never on Sunday’ tradition established in 1893

Dec 30, 2022, 1:23 PM | Updated: 1:28 pm

Traditions, that are such an essential part of the Rose Bowl Parade, extend way back to the 19th Century and include a “never on Sunday” policy.

Before there was a game, there was a Rose Parade, started in 1890 in Pasadena, California, where it is still held. The city was celebrating its warm weather by showing off its flowers in a parade to welcome in the new year while other locations were buried in snow.

Part of that event, steeped in tradition, well more than a century later is the “never on Sunday” rule that was established the first time Jan. 1 posed a conflict with church.

“The Tournament of Roses has had a ‘Never on Sunday’ tradition since 1893, the first year the Rose Parade fell on a Sunday, and the tradition remains to this day,” it states on the current event’s website.

That’s why the game, pitting the University of Utah against Penn State, falls on Monday, Jan. 2, instead of Sunday Jan. 1. Because like always, the event is more than just a game. The Tournament of Roses parade, held on Colorado Boulevard, is 5.5 miles long, traditionally starting at 8 a.m. and includes a long tradition of roses, flowers and other natural materials, marching bands and horses.

The college bowl game was only added in 1902 to assist with the cost of events.

The parade, back in the 19th Century, was first held until a Monday because it was a concern it might disrupt the community. In those days, horses were hitched outside churches and there was a belief a parade would be disruptive to those attending services.

“It’s a combination of respect as well as tradition,” Libby Wright, then chairwoman of the Rose Bowl management committee told the LA Times in 2012. “I don’t know that anyone has ever talked about changing it.”

It’s happened 19 times, with 2023 marking the 20th; the last time was 2017 and the next isn’t until 2034, though with the changing face of college football playoffs and therefore traditional bowl games, the next decade could bring a lot of changes.

“We do what is best for the city,” Wright said a decade ago.

A year ago, anyone attending the parade had to wear a mask or show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, though it is still recommended. Hospital beds in L.A. County are running low with COVID-19, RSV and the flu.

Like Salt Lake City’s July 24 parade, those attending the Tournament of Roses can camp overnight to get a prime spot. High school marching bands play with college bands and armed forces bands as well as international performers. Horses are still an important part of events too.

The parade was cancelled in 1942, 1943, 1945 and 2021.

You can see a sneak peek of the 2023 Rose Parade floats here. And you can count down here. The parade is televised live on NBC from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

NBC has covered the Rose Parade festivities for 96 years, beginning on radio in 1927 and television in 1954

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Rose Bowl Parade continues its ‘never on Sunday’ tradition established in 1893