What better way to start the New Year than watching football and enjoying the annual New Year’s Day parades! Whether you see the events in person or on TV, you and your family can begin the New Year with some entertaining and exciting American traditions.
If you are going to watch a parade, why not watch one that directly connects to our favorite American pastime, football?
Two of the biggest bowl games, the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl, have amazing parades associated with them to help you get in the mood for watching the best college football teams of the season, as they compete for top honors.
The Sugar Bowl Parade
History of the Sugar Bowl Parade and the Sugar Bowl
The Allstate Sugar Bowl Parade is only three years old. However, the football classic enjoys an 84-year-old history.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic began the tradition in 1935. Tulane played Temple, beating them 20-14. The second game had one of the oddest scores in football history when Texas Christian University (TCU) defeated Louisiana State University (LSU) 3-2!
The organization behind the annual Sugar Bowl football game added a parade to the festivities in 2015. The Mardi-Gras-style parade began, in part, as a means to help New Orleans recover from the devastating blow of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, along with its adverse effect on tourism.
Over 28 million people all over the world watch the Sugar Bowl game. Enjoying the parade beforehand is quickly becoming part of that game-watching tradition.
Origins of the Name “Sugar Bowl”
To understand the origin of the name “Sugar Bowl,” we must go back to the early days of the city’s history.
Indigo had been the staple of the New Orleans’ economy until a drought and a subsequent insect plague ruined the crop and almost bankrupted the plantation owners.
One owner, however, Étienne de Boré, saw the blight as an opportunity to gamble on something he had long thought could make him rich: sugar. The timing was right as the only French colony in the New World that produced sugar and sugar granules, Saint Dominque, had recently experienced a slave revolt, which ultimately morphed into the famous Haitian Slave Revolt, the largest and most successful slave uprising in the Americas.
Étienne took advantage of this by offering jobs to the sugar makers who had fled the island. De Boré quickly became rich, and, in the process, replacing indigo as the cash crop for New Orleans’ farmers.
The game’s original stadium was built on land where Étienne de Boré became the first person in Louisiana to crystallize sugar into granules. In the 1920s, a few years before the Sugar Bowl held its first game, history almost repeated itself when the sugar crops failed, nearly collapsing the industry in New Orleans.
A sportswriter suggested they should start a tradition of an annual football game at Tulane Stadium, which had been built on land formerly owned by Étienne de Boré, and call it the Sugar Bowl. In 1974, the game moved from Tulane Stadium to the Superdome.
Some Sugar Bowl Statistics
With a football-based theme and a deliberate Mardi Gras parade flavor, the Sugar Bowl and its iconic past directly relate to the parade festivities.
The Sugar Bowl has some incredible statistics to back up its claim as offering some of the best in college football every year. The game in New Orleans has hosted 48 Hall of Fame coaches and 17 Heisman Trophy winners. Plus, 27 national championship games have been played here, along with seven games with the top two ranked teams in the nation for the particular year. The AllState Sugar Bowl Parade is managed by a subset of the same organization that oversees the Sugar Bowl each year.
Events Leading Up to the Parade
The AllState Sugar Bowl hosts several events prior to this Louisiana parade and football game.
One of the most popular is the Fun Fest. The Fun Fest takes place in the historic Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Designated a National Historical Site, Jackson Square is where the ceremony took place in 1803, when the United States acquired New Orleans as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
The Fun Fest celebrates the upcoming football game, with lots of pep rallies, marching bands, football-related activities and other events for the whole family to enjoy. More pep rallies take place during the day on December 31st, with various official rallies hosted by the competing teams.
Also on December 31st, this year Ryan Seacrest will host Dick Clark’s New Years’ Rockin’ Eve with performance acts from New Orleans.
The 2018 Parade Schedule and Route
The parade begins on New Year’s Eve at 3 pm. The formation area is along Elysian Fields Avenue in the French Quarter by Washington Square. The floats and bands travel along Decatur Street, starting about a block before the Old U.S. Mint. The route parallels one of the twists and turns of the Mississippi River in this part of the city and is about a mile long or 15 city blocks.
The parade ends by the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium at Canal Street.
Interesting Facts Related to the Sugar Bowl
Only one team has won the Sugar Bowl three years in a row: Alabama. One team won the game twice in one year. The University of Oklahoma beat Auburn on January 1, 1972. The game date changed to New Year’s Eve the following year, and Oklahoma beat Penn State on December 31, 1972.
In 2006, for the first time, the Sugar Bowl had to move locations due to damage to the stadium by Hurricane Katrina. The AllState Sugar Bowl organization almost canceled the event, but the gracious citizens of Atlanta offered to host it at the Georgia Dome.
The Rose Bowl or Tournament of Roses Parade
The History of the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl
The Rose Bowl Parade officially called the Tournament of Roses Parade, along with its associated football game, the Rose Bowl. It is the oldest Bowl parade in the United States.
The Valley Hunt Club in Pasadena began the tradition in 1890 as a way to promote the city and area known as “The Mediterranean of the West.” The Club invited prominent East Coast attendees and hosted a variety of games, including foot races, polo, chariot races and a tug-of-war.
The Club and city of Pasadena decided, due to the abundance of flowers in the middle of winter because of the warm climate, to hold a parade that would showcase this feature of their city. The parade was a competition, whereby entrants would decorate carriages with flowers and the winner was awarded a prize.
They called it the Tournament of Roses Parade, and it became an annual event.
How Football and the Rose Bowl Joined the Festivities
For about 20 years the parade continued to add various events and became a popular annual affair. Oddities like ostrich races helped make the Tournament of Roses Parade something that national newspapers began regularly reporting on each New Year’s.
During the first 20 years, bands and stands were added to the route, and motorized vehicles began participating.
In 1902 the first football game was organized around the event. Stanford played the University of Michigan. However, the home team, Stanford, lost so badly the parade organizers decided not to host another football game for over a decade.
Eventually, in 1916, another football game attached itself to the parade. The game was so popular the city built a new stadium in 1922 to host the event. The public and press quickly started calling the stadium and game “The Rose Bowl.”
Only five years later, the city voted to increase the stadium’s capacity from 19,000 to 79,000, due to the growing popularity of the football component to the parade.
The Tournament of Roses Association
The Valley Hunt Club found the parade too expensive for the Club to handle alone. Club officials formed the Tournament of Roses Association and proceeded to raise the $596 needed to stage the parade in 1885.
More recently, in 1983, the Association formed a non-profit group, the Tournament of Roses Foundation, explicitly created to receive and manage contributions to help stage the parade.
The Association also uses some of the funds for grants given to other local Pasadena non-profits for sports, performing arts and other cultural activities.
Other Events Scheduled around the California Rose Bowl Parade
Several other events take place leading up to the Tournament of Roses Parade. From December 1-31, you can volunteer to help decorate the floats at locations throughout the Greater Los Angeles area.
For three days before the parade, you can buy tickets to view the floats at the various decorating warehouses. After the parade, you can see the floats throughout the day on the Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevard. It is a 2 ½ mile trek. There is no parking, but shuttles are available.
Equestfest, an exhibition of horse riding, takes place at 10 am on December 29th at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. That same day, and also on the 30th, is Bandfest at Robinson Stadium, Pasadena City College. Bandfest hosts performances by marching bands throughout the country and from abroad.
At noon on December 30th is the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Rose Bowl. This tradition began in 1989 and recognizes players, coaches and others who have made a special contribution to the Rose Bowl Game. The committee that determines the inductees includes representatives from the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Parade Schedule and Route
The 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade begins at 8 am on January 1st.
The parade route is more than five miles long. It begins at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, travels along Orange Grove to Colorado Boulevard, turns north on Sierra Madre Boulevard and ends at Villa Street.
Each year since 1918, the Association has named a theme for the parade. This year the theme is “Making a Difference.” In 1918, the theme was “Patriotism,” due to World War I. Actor Gary Sinise will host this year’s parade.
- Three years after its inception in 1893, the tournament organizers decided the parade could not be held on a Sunday. This was because they were afraid the parade and events would frighten the horses hitched to the front of the churches during services. Today, even though people no longer use horses for transport, the tradition remains in effect. If January 1st falls on a Sunday, the parade is held the next day.
- The chariot races were so popular the parade organizers decided to ban the event as being too dangerous and attracting too rowdy a crowd.
- In 1900, the Vitascope Company took the first motion pictures of the parade, which were later screened at various locations throughout the United States.
- The parade was first broadcast live in 1930 over the radio, resulting in a huge tourist boom for Pasadena that year.
- Mary Pickford became the first Hollywood celebrity to host the parade.
Where to Watch It
The Tournament of Roses Parade is one of the most-watched parades in the world. Several broadcast companies cover the event, including ABC, NBC, the Hallmark Channel and KTLA. Sky Link TV even broadcasts it in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Many countries around the world broadcast the parade live despite the time-zone differences. Armenia, the Caribbean, parts of Europe and Latin America all televise the parade live.
A parade is a wonderful way to ring in the New Year. Today, you can watch the parades live on television. If you’re lucky enough to attend either one of these parades, be sure to pack your favorite NFL team flag before you go.
Don’t miss the fun. Plan to start the New Year off right by viewing the Sugar Bowl and Tournament of Roses parades.