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The Baltimore Sun

Verdugo Views: The wartime gap in the Rose Parade's history

The city of Glendale is finalizing its 100th entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1. The first float was entered in 1911. But that was more than 100 years ago, right? Read on to find one reason for the disparity.

Except for the World War II years, Glendale has been in the parade nearly continuously since 1911, making our city one of the longest-running entrants. Not only that, our floats were consistent prize winners right up until the war.

The last float before the war, in 1941, depicted President Lincoln as the "Great Emancipator" and won the coveted sweepstakes. It was later exhibited at First National bank on North Brand and was so popular that it remained under police guard for two days.

According to a Glendale News-Press account, it overlapped the 10-minute green parking zone, "but no one seemed to mind."

The attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, brought huge changes. The West Coast was deemed vulnerable to attack, so the U.S. Army decreed no parade and no football game in Pasadena in 1942. Glendale called off plans for their float: It was to have been a huge floral book of maps showing North and South America.

As sweepstakes winner the previous year, our float would have held the place of honor near the head of the parade.

But there was a parade of sorts in Pasadena that new year. Determined to keep the tradition alive, hundreds gathered at the Huntington Hotel to view a miniature parade of 33 tiny flower-covered floats. The Rose Queen and her court — selected before the war shut everything down — were there, dressed in casual daytime clothing.

That year's football game was relocated to Duke University in Durham, N.C.

There was no parade in 1943 either; instead, there was a war bond contest. Glendale had met its quota for war bond sales in 1942, qualifying it for entry in the Parade of War Bonds.

Members of the local chamber of commerce documented the bond drive in a huge leather-bound book that held all the required data, plus a plan for continuing sales. Their hard work paid off, as Glendale won the theme prize, awarded at halftime at the UCLA/Georgia game in the Rose Bowl.

The Rose Queen presided over the bond event. Yes, even though there was no parade due to the ongoing war effort, the annual football game was back at the Rose Bowl.

The next two years saw continued war and no parade; although football games took place both years.

With the end of the war in late 1945, the Tournament committee announced that a parade would be held the following January.

Glendale, like other cities, was unprepared. Throughout the war years, they had continued to budget $2,000 for a float. However, material and labor costs were extremely high and growers didn't have time to assure an adequate supply of flowers. There were concerns that a low-cost float would break the long string of awards.

But Glendale's citizens responded, contributing some $3,000, thus giving the city a $5,000 budget. The 1946 float, with a giant V for Victory topped by a globe and the dove of peace, won first prize in Class A.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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