Building a Float | Agraria

Building a Rose Parade float

One of the great things about being in California is that we have flowers and roses practically all year long. And we celebrate that by our yearly Rose Parade and Tournament of Roses in Pasadena that kicks off the Rose Bowl game.


The 2012 Tournament of Roses Royal Court Finalists stand together for the first time in front of media, family and friends at the Tournament house in Pasadena. From left are Sarah Nicole Zuno, Franklin High School; Cynthia Megan Louie, La Salle High School; Morgan Eliza Devaud, La Canada High School; Kimberly Victoria Ostiller, Flintridge Preparatory School; Drew Hellen Washington, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; Hanan Bulto Worku, Pasadena High School, and Stephanie Grace Hynes, Maranatha High School (Tim Berger/Glendale News Press Staff Photographer)

A History of the Tournament of Roses

This uniquely American event began as a promotional effort by Pasadena’s distinguished Valley Hunt Club. In the winter of 1890, the club members brainstormed ways to promote the “Mediterranean of the West.” They invited their former East Coast neighbors to a mid-winter holiday, where they could watch games such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun. The abundance of fresh flowers, even in the midst of winter, prompted the club to add another showcase for Pasadena’s charm: a parade would precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms. The Tournament of Roses was born.

1954 Rose Parade | Agraria

By 1954, Pasadena's Rose Parade was famous enough to merit its debut as the first-ever coast-to-coast program televised in color.

“In New York, people are buried in snow,” announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting. “Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.”

During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats. The games on the town lot (which was re-named Tournament Park in 1900) included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant (the elephant won). Reviewing stands were built along the Parade route, and Eastern newspapers began to take notice of the event. In 1895, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the festival, which had grown too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle.

In 1902, the Tournament of Roses decided to enhance the day’s festivities by adding a football game – the first post season college football game ever held. Stanford University accepted the invitation to take on the powerhouse University of Michigan, but the West Coast team was flattened 49-0 and gave up in the third quarter. The lopsided score prompted the Tournament to give up football in favor of Roman-style chariot races. In 1916, football returned to stay and the crowds soon outgrew the stands in Tournament Park. William L. Leishman, the Tournament’s 1920 President, envisioned a stadium similar to the Yale Bowl, the first great modern football stadium, to be built in Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco area. The new stadium hosted its first New Year’s football game in 1923 and soon earned the nickname “The Rose Bowl.”

The Tournament of Roses has come a long way since its early days. The Rose Parade’s elaborate floats now feature high-tech computerized animation and exotic natural materials from around the world. Although a few floats are still built exclusively by volunteers from their sponsoring communities, most are built by professional float building companies and take nearly a year to construct. The year-long effort pays off on New Year’s morning, when millions of viewers around the world enjoy the Rose Parade.

Nicknamed “The Granddaddy of Them All” the Rose Bowl Game has been a sellout attraction every year since 1947. That year’s contest was the first game played under the Tournament’s exclusive agreement with the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences. The 1998 Rose Bowl Game was the 52nd anniversary of that agreement, the longest standing tradition of any collegiate conference and a bowl association. Now, as part of the Bowl Championship Series, the Rose Bowl has hosted the National Championship Game between the top two teams in the nation in 2002, 2006, 2010 and will host the National Championship again in 2014.
— Courtesy of

A Few Grand Marshals from Past Parades

It wasn’t until the 1930s that the Tournament of Roses took the hint from Hollywood and began including not only movie stars as Grand marshals, but also the first woman GM, Mary Pickford officiated. (All images courtesy of

Mary Pickford | Agraria

Mary Pickford (left) in 1933

Edgar bergen (right) and Charlie McCarthy | Agraria

Edgar Bergen (right) and Charlie McCarthy in 1940

Bob Hope | Agraria

Bob Hope at right in 1947

Richard and Pat Nixon in 1960 | Agraria

Richard and Pat Nixon in 1960

Mickey Mouse | Agraria

Mickey Mouse in 2005

How to Celebrate the Tournament of Roses If You Are Not in California

Not everyone can enjoy the crisp sunshine and heavenly fragrances from all those flowery floats on New Year’s Day. A wonderful way to capture the essence of a rosy winter is Agraria’s newest home fragrance, Cedar Rose.

Cedar Rose | Agraria

Cedar roses are the tops of mature cedar cones that are created as the cones dry out and the lower “petals” are pushed off or disintegrate. There is no Cedar rose tree or bush.

The Damask (aka Damascus) Rose was probably the first flower from which rose oil and rose water were distilled, possibly in 10th Century Persia.

Atlas Cedarwood, a native of North Africa’s Atlas Mountains, is prized for its high percentage of aromatic compounds that are distilled into essential oils. The trees are cultivated in Morocco for furniture and for the elaborate carved doors and plaques, hence the inspiration for the luxury bath bar paper design.

A Special New Year’s Wish From All of Us at Agraria

Have a wonderful new year and thank you so much for your interest in our products and fragrances. As a special thanks, Ethel Merman sends you the very best below.