Tournament of Roses Parade 101: 6 Pro Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Adventure

It wouldn’t be New Year’s Day without the Tournament of Roses Parade — and Road Scholar has the ultimate learning adventure to bring you inside the preparations, celebrations and pageantry of this American tradition! To get the most out of your Rose Parade experience, here are six insider tips to help you navigate the festivities like a pro.

Road Scholar Recommends: Rose Parade®: A Heritage to Celebrate

Decorate the Floats

More than 40 floats make their way into the Rose Parade each year, and each requires the help of a host of volunteers to get them finished. On Rose Parade®: A Heritage to Celebrate, Road Scholars have the special opportunity to help with these matters, and enjoy a day of float volunteering at one of four float assembly sites in the area. Duties may include gluing seeds to a float prop, preparing bark and other materials for application, filling water vials with water and cutting and adding flowers to the vials. The sites are often run by other volunteers, so patience and a can-do attitude make this day the most it can be. It’s an incredible feeling to help create these beautiful floats that will soon be viewed by millions of people around the world!

Pro-tip: Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet for much of the day and seats are very limited. Also, bring your own gloves and garden snips if you want to jump right into flower cutting!

Dress Like an Onion

Though the Rose Parade is held in Southern California, January is still one of the cooler months. Mornings and evenings can be chilly, so be sure to bring something warm to wear to early events. The weather warms up as the day continues, however – you will be happy to have a t-shirt, sunglasses and a hat as you spend the afternoon at the Getty Museum or Bandfest!

Pro-tip: Be sure to fill up your water bottle each day as you leave the hotel. You’ll need to stay hydrated as the day heats up!

Prepare for Early Mornings

There’s so much to do as we prepare for the Rose Parade, and each day starts at an early hour. In order to take advantage of full days, your coach bus will most likely leave the hotel by 7:30 – meaning that breakfast is even earlier. All of this is definitely worth it though – you’ll be enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the preparations and festivities surrounding the world-famous Rose Parade!

Pro-tip: If you have travelled to the Rose Parade from the East Coast, try to keep your Eastern Standard Time schedule – it will help with the early mornings. Also, your hotel may offer to-go cups for coffee if you’d like to bring along a bit of caffeine to get you moving!

Get in Line

While all of your tickets to local events such as Bandfest — a festival featuring performances by each band that will appear in the Rose Parade — and post-parade float viewing are included on your Road Scholar learning adventure, these large events attract many other attendees who are also hoping to get the best vantage points. Because of this, lines are necessary. Your Road Scholar group will arrive early to make sure that you get the best possible spot in line, which helps you to get a great seat for Bandfest or enjoy early viewing at the post-parade float site.

Pro-tip: Take advantage of waiting in line to chat with others — you might meet the parent of a band member, a parade volunteer or even a local who is joining in on the festivities! Everyone has a story about the Rose Parade.

Bring a Seat Cushion & a Hat

At Bandfest and the Rose Parade you’ll be sitting on stadium bleachers. (And at the Rose Parade, we have reserved seats just for Road Scholar!) While these bleachers provide you with an excellent view of the events you are attending, you will be seated for about three hours at a time. Pack a seat cushion in your luggage to use during these events and improve your comfort levels tenfold. A hat will provide a bit of relief from the sun.

Pro-tip: Don’t have a seat cushion? Bring along an extra sweatshirt to sit on during these events. Or, if you’d like the ultimate souvenir, Rose Parade seat cushions are often available at local vendors. (Hint: Souvenirs are often cheaper before the actual parade day.)

Now that you have the insider tips, you can navigate the Rose Parade like a pro. Whether you join Road Scholar for our traditional Rose Parade learning adventure or bring your family along on our newest Rose Parade experience, we’re sure these tips will help you to have the best New Year’s Day possible!


About the Author
JoAnn Bell, Senior Vice President of Program Development, develops and manages more than 5,500 learning adventures in 150 countries and 50 states. JoAnn's extensive experience informs her expert insight on everything from where to find the world's most charming streets to must-see hidden gems across the globe.

Get our e-newsletter!

Stay in the loop on our new blogs, special offers, new adventures and more.