Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Photos: Weird And Charming Vintage Rose Parade Floats

We need to hear from you.
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

The Rose Parade always promises plenty of charming—and sometimes weird—floats for those willing to brave the cold, and the parades of the past were no exception.

This year's parade in Pasadena marks the 127th year of the New Year's Day tradition, which features elaborate flower-covered floats, marching bands, horses and big crowds. The parade is then followed by the Rose Bowl college football game—together known as the Tournament of Roses—but that tradition started in 1902. When the annual celebration first began on January 1, 1890, the parade of flower-adorned horse-and-buggies was followed by a variety of public games. The games included foot races, tugs of war, jousts and a tourney of rings, which according to the history of the event, was "an old Spanish game in which mounted horsemen, each carrying a 12-foot lance, try to spear three rings hung about 30 feet apart while riding at top speed." Right. Try accomplishing that with a massive New Year's hangover. In 1904, they also added chariot races, but they came to an end in 1915 because they were deemed too expensive and dangerous.

Early parade floats were pretty subdued by today's standards, but still included massive amounts of flowers covering wagons and later fancy "motorized vehicles." It wasn't until 1908 that the designs became more involved, including a "41-foot whale that spouted carnation-scented perfume 25 feet in the air; an 86-foot orange; and a 35-foot airship." And while the floats were once mostly built by volunteers from sponsoring communities, these days most are built by parade float pros. Here's clip from the parade in 1931:

Support for LAist comes from

This year's grand marshal for this year's Rose Parade is filmmaker Ken Burns, who would no doubt appreciate these vintage floats.

The Rose Parade will start at 8:00 a.m. on January 1, and you can find more info here.

Most Read