The East Coast has their own traditions for New Year’s Eve, notably the dropping of the ball in Times Square to signal the beginning of the New Year. We have our own traditions here on the West Coast, and with 2014 almost upon us, we thought we’d take a closer look at one of the biggest: the Tournament of Roses Parade.

The Parade is held every year on New Year’s Day, save when January 1 falls on a Sunday (in which case it is held on the 2nd). Tradition holds that they don’t host it on a Sunday in exchange for God preventing rain on the parade, though it has actually rained ten times since the first parade. It all began in 1890, when members of the Pasadena Valley Hunt club organized and staged it on Colorado Boulevard. Their parade consisted of horse carts covered with flowers, followed by a series of athletic events (including races and polo matches). Football was first added in 1902, when Michigan beat Stanford by a score of 49-0. The football tradition was dropped for a few years, but came back in 1916 for good. The game has traditionally featured the champions of the Big 10 and Pac 10 Conferences, though teams from different conferences have appeared from time to time.

As for the parade itself, it soon added motorized floats, marching bands and equestrian units to its array of features. A “Rose Queen” is chosen every year from the ranks of Pasadena girls ages 17 through 21, along with six princesses to serve as her court. 2014’s Rose Queen is high school student Ana Marie Acosta. A Grand Marshall is chosen every year as well, and has previously included such varied luminaries as Walt Disney, John Wayne, Dwight Eisenhower, Hank Aaron, George Lucas, Charles M. Schulz, Kermit the Frog, and Fred Rogers. The Grand Marshall for 2014 will be legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.

Wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate New Year’s Day, we here at Mister Sparky wish you nothing but the very best. May 2014 bring you all good things, and may your New Year’s celebrations – in whatever form they take – be happy, safe and fun for your entire family. Happy New Year!