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'Tremendous Disappointment': 2021 Rose Parade Canceled For The First Time In 75 Years

PASADENA (CBSLA) — The 2021 Tournament of Roses Parade has been officially canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

128th Rose Parade
The "Rose Cast" of 250 performers opens the 128th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 2, 2017. The Rose Parade, also known as the Tournament of Roses Parade, is part of "America's New Year Celebration" held in Pasadena each year on New Year's Day, or on January 2 if New Year's Day falls on a Sunday. The parade's Never on Sunday tradition dates to 1893, the first year since the start of the event that New Years Day fell on a Sunday. To avoid frightening horses that would be hitched outside churches on a Sunday the parade was moved to the next day, January 2. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

"The health and well-being of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority," Bob Miller, 2021 President of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, said in a statement. "Obviously this is not what any of us wanted, and we held off on announcing until we were absolutely sure that safety restrictions would prevent us from continuing with planning for 132nd Rose Parade."

Since it started in 1891, the annual parade has not taken place only three times – the wartime years of 1942, 1943, and 1945. Every year, the parade and the accompanying Rose Bowl football game bring millions of people to Pasadena from around the country and the world, many of whom camp alongside the parade route for days.

"We all know what the Rose Parade means to us here in Pasadena, as well as to New Year celebrations around the world. To know that we won't get to experience this great tradition on January 1, 2021, is extremely disappointing," Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek said in the statement.

Planning for the annual New Year's Day parade typically begins in February, and construction on the spectacular, flower-laden floats happens throughout the year. David Eads, Executive Director/CEO of the association, said having volunteers gather together for those preparations would not be in compliance with safety recommendations put in place because of the pandemic.

The organization was already months behind on float building, and 12 of the 22 bands -- which were selected 18 months in advance -- have canceled.

"If you think about marching bands playing instruments with aerosols from a public health perspective, it wouldn't be allowed," Eads said.

The Tournament of Roses Association says they commissioned a feasibility and safety report from experts at USC's Keck School of Medicine to explore whether the parade could still go on. The report found that even with social distancing measures and face masks, Rose Parade activities before, during and after the event would inevitably bring people -- particularly high-risk individuals like retirees over 60 -- in close proximity with each other, creating a high-risk environment for viral spread.

Planning for the Rose Bowl game, however, is still ongoing, along with possibilities for a "reimagined" New Year celebration, officials said.

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