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LeVar Burton Talks About COVID Precautions And What The Rose Parade Means To Him

Two images - on the left, a large two-headed dragon parade float made of red, pink, orange, and yellow flowers travels down the middle of the Rose Bowl Parade route surrounded by crowds. On the right, LeVar Burton stands on a red carpet smiling while waring a red crushed velvet sports jacket and black shirt.
(left) "Time for Tea" float by Bakery, Confectionery & Tobacco Workers union in 1986; (right) LeVar Burton at the 17th Annual Director's Guild Award For Excellence In Production Design in 2013.
(Imeh Akpanudosen/Brian Keyes/Allsport
Getty Images)
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LeVar Burton didn’t start off as an Angeleno. The 2022 Rose Parade Grand Marshal grew up in Sacramento. But the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl were omnipresent since his childhood, and ultimately played a part in moving him to the Southland in the first place.

“The Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl game to follow was always a big event on January 1st in my family,” Burton told Susanne Whatley on Morning Edition. “And as an adult with my own family, I've continued that tradition and my exposure … to the parade and the game are … in part responsible for my having moved here to Southern California to go to USC.”

When Burton found out about his selection as Grand Marshal, he said he was “gobsmacked.” The L.A. resident seemed to have been gravitating toward the role since he was a kid.

This year, the Rose Parade’s theme is “Dream, Believe, Achieve.” The credo strikes a particularly personal chord with Burton.

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“[The theme] is almost as if it's a recipe … for my life. My mother … Erma Jean Christian … I am the man that I am because she was the woman that she was. Education was primarily important to her,” Burton said. “My mother had two careers. First, as a teacher of high school English, and then as a social worker. So the values that she established in our family are all about dreaming your personal dream, whatever that is, and believing that you not only can achieve it but deserve it.”

Dreaming and believing that you deserve that dream, those two steps, said Burton, are necessary for anyone hoping to live out the “Dream, Believe, Achieve” theme.

As COVID cases surge in the region, the event has been gearing up with extra precautions. Burton is well aware of the current situation.

“The reality is, there's this major surge going on,” Burton said. “For those who are concerned about their safety, if they're going to attend either event, the Tournament of Roses Parade or the Rose Bowl game itself, I know that the tournament has done and is doing everything they can to address safety concerns, everyone going into the stadium, at the Rose Bowl, will need to have either proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the event.”

Burton also mentioned the “mitigating factors” that the event benefits from, a largely open-air venue for the game itself at the Rose Bowl and an outdoor parade route.

If you’re planning to attend, arm yourself with information ahead of time with this handy LAist guide to the Rose Parade.

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