OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Dave Proffer

Every year, the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, takes place around New Year’s Day as part of the Tournament of Roses. This year marks the 123rd annual event, making it one of America’s most beloved traditional holiday festivals. With beautiful designer flowers adorning a variety of magnificent floats, it’s truly a spectacle worth watching. To gear up for this year’s festivities, here are a few fun facts about the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Parade.

1. Every year comes with a new President of the Tournament of Roses, and it’s this person who gets to choose the theme of the year, which is meant to inspire the float designs for the parade. For 2012, the theme is  “Just Imagine.” We can only do just that as we wait in anticipation.

2. According to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, 80,000 hours of combined manpower are put into the floats and planning each year. The Tournament of Roses Association has 935 members to help out, but plenty of other volunteers, businesses and individuals put in a lot of effort to make the event a success.

3. The parade and Rose Bowl game have a “Never on Sunday” rule. Every year, the events are meant to be held on January 1st, but if the date falls on a Sunday, it’s moved to compensate. That’s why this year’s event is taking place on Monday, January 2. This policy was put into place in 1893, according to RoseBowlHistory.org. Their goal was originally to avoid frightening horses tethered outside local churches, which would have been disruptive.

4. The Rose Parade follows the same route every year. It’s a five-and-a-half-mile stretch that takes about two hours to complete. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses website specifies that the floats, equestrians and marching bands travel at a pace of about two and a half miles per hour, which is quite leisurely – giving viewers ample time to view the roses, tropical flowers and natural displays.

5. The Tournament of Roses has a huge worldwide audience. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses anticipates that around 47 million Americans will tune in to watch the Parade of Roses this year on TV, while around 700,000 are expected to line the parade route on January 2. In addition, viewers from 220 territories around the world will be tuned in, bringing the total TV audience to around 14.3 million households. That’s only slightly more than the amount of people who will be watching the Rose Bowl game.

If you’re ready to see months of dedicated planning, hard work and creativity pay off, tune in to the Rose Parade on January 2 to catch a view of the great displays of flowers.