2024 ROSE PARADE THEME: “CELEBRATING A WORLD OF MUSIC: THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE”
The theme for the 2024 Tournament of Roses Parade is “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language”. 2024 Tournament of Roses President, Alex Aghajanian, chose the theme with the intention of using music to unite people. Music is a powerful tool that connects all cultures, countries, and generations. It can bring people together to celebrate, to mourn, to protest, and to simply enjoy the moment. The 2024 Rose Parade will showcase the beauty and diversity of music from around the world, from classical to country to rock to hip hop. The parade will feature floats, bands, and equestrian units that celebrate the power of music to unite us all. The floats will be decorated with flowers and other materials that represent different musical genres. The bands will perform a variety of musical pieces, from traditional folk songs to modern pop hits. And the equestrian units will represent different cultures from around the world.
THE ROSE QUEEN AND HER COURT
The Tournament of Roses is proud to celebrate the 105TH Rose Queen this year, Naomi Stillitano!
Naomi Stillitano is a senior at Arcadia High School, and lives in Arcadia. She is currently copresident of the Italian Culture Club, a dancer and actress with the Arcadia Stage Theater and was a swimmer on the Rose Bowl Swim Team. She enjoys playing guitar and piano, singing, traveling, cooking, drawing, roller skating and bike riding. Born and raised in Italy for seven years, Naomi speaks fluent Italian, and understands Spanish. With the goal to create her own fashion brand, Naomi is interested in studying fashion design and marketing at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Milano Fashion Institute, Pasadena City College or the University of Southern California. Naomi is the daughter of Piero Stillitano and Nerida Gonzalez, and has two brothers, Toraino and Taaj.
Each September, close to 1,000 young women vie for the honor of serving as a member of the Tournament of Roses Royal Court. Multiple rounds of interviews take place over the course of a month, with the Tournament’s Queen and Court Committee looking for those participants with the right combination of poise, personality, public speaking abilityand scholastic achievement. Royal Court members become ambassadors of the Tournament, and selecting the right young women is an important task.
When that selection process concludes, a Rose Queen and six Rose Princesses will become part of a beloved legacy, reigning over the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game. It is an honor to serve on the Royal Court, but a tremendous responsibility as well. Before riding their specially designed float in the Rose Parade, the Royal Court members will at- tend well over 100 public and media functions, all while maintaining their school work and other extracurricular activi- ties.
2024 ROSE PARADE GRAND MARSHAL
The Illustrious and multi-award-winning performer Audra McDonald was announced as the 2024 Grand Marshal by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses President Alex Aghajanian. As the embodiment of the theme “Celebrating a World of Music,” Audra McDonald stands as a testament to the global resonance of melodies. Her illustrious career in theater, music and television is a harmonious tribute to the universal language that unites cultures worldwide.
The announcement was a celebratory event, just 30 days before the 135th Rose Parade presented by Honda, attended by Tournament Members, local public figures and community members. Audra made the ceremonial walk down the front steps of Tournament House to the song, “On Broadway” and enthusiastic applause.
Audra McDonald shines as a multifaceted luminary, effortlessly captivating audiences with her talent in theater, music and television, crafting a legacy marked by unparalleled performances and acclaimed portrayals on both stage and screen.
Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two GRAMMY® Awards and an Emmy® Award, in 2015 she received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama and was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. Audra won Tonys for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which also served as the vehicle for her Olivier-nominated 2017 West End debut.
On television, Audra won an Emmy as the official host of PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center and is known for recurring roles on Private Practice, The Good Wife, The Good Fight and The Gilded Age. Her film credits include Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and MGM’s 2021 Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect. A Juilliard-trained soprano, she maintains a major career as a GRAMMY-winning recording and concert artist. Her latest solo album, Sing Happy, was recorded live with the New York Philharmonic for Decca Gold.
Audra is a founding member of Black Theatre United, a board member of Covenant House International and prominent advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights. Her favorite roles are those performed offstage, as an activist, wife to actor Will Swenson and mother.
Nothing can be done officially about constructing the floats until the Parade Theme has been announced. So, until that time, clean up and repair work is done on various chassis in preparation for re-using them from the prior year’s Parade.
Once the Parade Theme has been announced, the various float decorators are required to submit 8” X 10” pencil sketch theme drafts to Tournament Headquarters for approval and acceptance. A total of 120 sketches are approved. Once a pencil sketch is approved, they are protected from being copied by other decorators. These concepts are now eligible to be sold to any of the float sponsors who may be interested and who have earlier applied for entrance into the parade.
Once the sketches have been accepted by the Tournament of Roses and float sponsors, professional designers are hired to produce the Art Renderings for the individual decorators. Decorators, in the meantime, are busy re-constructing and engineering the float chassis for the proposed design.
Early in March the actual float construction begins with the chassis and the metal construction, welding, forming, etc. The first testing in accordance with Float Construction requirements is the “Bench Check.” This test is a stationary test to check mechanical items (running gear, brakes, etc.). Immediately following the first street test approval, the decora- tor is given the right to begin cocooning or covering the float and to paint and prepare for the second street test. Ap- proximately six weeks after the first street test, the animation and sound components are tested. Floats with more complicated animation and design are given longer (3 to 4 months) between testing.
Concurrently in March, all flower orders are placed with the growers both in and outside the United States. In Septem- ber, decorators will update their flower orders to insure timely deliveries.
During the month of November, while construction progress is continuing, decorators have what they call “Dry Satur- days.” On these days the helpers will cut and store all of the “dry” (natural coverings) materials that are to be used on the various floats -- bark seeds, palm fronds, etc. This is also a time for decorators to train their many assistant decora- tors who will be in charge of individual floats.
On the first Saturday in December, the longer-lasting flowers (mums, etc.) begin to arrive. These flowers are categorized and stored in water in the flower tents. Other flowers that have not opened will have to be put in heated rooms to force them open (such as the gladiola and iris).
The day after Christmas, begins what is commonly called “Hell Week.” At this time the decorators will have acquired a multitude of workers (adults and children age 13 and older), many from neighboring schools, churches, and community organizations, who volunteer to work for some “fund raising” project in which their group is involved.
Each float has an assigned florist who works closely with those covering the float with flowers to ensure the correct flowers, seeds, petals, bark, etc. are placed where they should be placed.
A supervisor is assigned to oversee the activities of the workers on that specific float. These supervisors make sure that the correct scaffolding is used and that the workers are safe. Forty workers are assigned to a float per shift, and, in most cases, there are two 8-hour shifts per day until the float is completed.
The first flowers to be added to the floats are the chrysanthemums because they are the hardiest and also last the long- est. Other long lasting items such as bark and seed, are also glued in place at this time.
Carnations are the next flowers to be added to the floats. Then, one or two days before the parade, the vialed flowers, such as roses and orchids) are added. Wherever vialed flowers are to be added, areas of thick free-floating foam have been blown on the float. Then these vials are punched into the Styrofoam sheets matching the color of the painted co- cooning.
There are three different times for judging the floats by the guest judges who have been selected by the Float Judging Committee. These judges have been selected both nationally and/or internationally and are invited to participate.
All floats must be completely finished by the second round of judging.
The first judging is held two days prior to the parade. At that time, the judges are able to get their first look at the floats in progress, to see how they fit the parade theme, to observe the flowers being added, to note the animation to be used, etc.
The second judging is done the day before the parade. During this time, the judges can expect to see the completed float, including all of the float riders in costume. The animation is expected to be working at this time, however the sound is not necessary until the float is actually moving in the parade.
All floats must be out of the barns by 9:00pm on New Year’s Eve. They are then escorted to the parade staging area by the Pasadena Police Department, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the Tournament of Roses Float Construction Committee.
The last judging is in the early morning hours (between 3 and 6am) before the parade. This time is given to the judges for a last minute look at details before they cast their votes.
When this is completed, the judges return to Tournament Headquarters for the final tally.
Once the votes have been counted, the first to be informed of the results is the Tournament Entries Committee so that they have time to put the various Award Banners in correct order to insert them into the parade just ahead of the float that has won the award. It is then that the media is given the information of the award winning floats.
At parade time, immediately in front of Tournament Headquarters, as the floats go by, the Award Banners, carried by Boy and Girl Scouts are inserted into the parade and the parade continues down Colorado Boulevard.