Rose Parade 2021 Cancelled; First Time Event Won’t Happen Since World War II

The 2021 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California, has been canceled for the first time since World War II because of coronavirus concerns.

“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 press release

The decision comes only two days after Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a roll-back to the state’s reopening guidelines. Under the new mandate, wineries, movie theaters, museums, and indoor dining locations must close down. 

Even though the parade is still six months away, the association’s decision was also influenced by the complications associated with preparing for the annual New Year’s Day event during a pandemic. 

“[T]he construction of our floats takes many months and typically requires thousands of volunteers to gather in ways that aren’t in compliance with safety recommendations and won’t be safe in the coming months,” David Eads, executive director of the Tournament of Roses Association, said in a statement. 

Eads also told The Los Angeles Times that volunteers were already months behind on float building, a process that typically begins in the first quarter of the year but has been delayed because of pandemic guidelines. 

In a press release, the Tournament of Roses Association said that they commissioned a report for the Keck School of Medicine at USC, and that the report described the problems associated with going forward with the event. The association writes:

That report showed that even with intensive effort to ensure compliance with public health measures such as six-foot distancing and face masks, it is likely that Rose Parade activities before, during and after the event would inevitably lead to large numbers of individuals (many of whom represent high risk groups for COVID-19 complications, such as retirees over age 60) in close proximity to each other, potentially, in some cases, without masks. This creates a high-risk environment for viral spread, including super-spreader events. In addition, thousands of parade participants and spectators will travel to the Los Angeles region from across the nation and even the world, in many cases by plane. Such travel represents infection risk to the travelers, but also may lead to the importation of the virus to the area from other regions of the country and world as well as exportation of the virus to other regions of the nation and world when these spectators return home.

Since it began in 1891, the Rose Parade has only been canceled three times, all during World War II. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the parade was canceled out of concern it could become a military target. The parade was canceled again in 1943, when a war bonds contest was held instead, and once more in 1945, shortly before the end of the war in Europe. 

Related: Florida Labs Found Significantly Inflating Positive COVID Testing Rate

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