Friday, December 30, 2011

Pasadena Tournament of Roses

A New Year’s tradition that many Californians look forward to each year is the Pasadena Tournament of Roses. Since 1890 the parade has drawn the attention of the state with its beautiful and often astonishing use of flowers to adorn floats whose themes range from the civic pride of local Southern California cities to the celebration of national historic figures such as the Tuskegee Airmen. 

Back on New Year’s Day in 1893, Hamlin Garland, a fresh visitor to Southern California, first witnessed the Pasadena Tournament of Roses. He recorded his observations of Southern California in a notebook which is today part of the University of Southern California Library’s collections. Garland’s account begins with an ominous tone, “The sun shone but the shadows were cold,” and continues with a recounting of the trampling of a young boy by horses participating in the Tournament’s races. Today’s Tournament of Roses can hardly be considered as rustic or dangerous as the Tournament of 1893, and instead observers can view the parade from much coveted seats along the sidelines of the parade’s route or from the safety of their homes as the parade is broadcast live on television.

Garland’s observations are represented in facsimile in one of a series of keepsakes designed and printed by San Francisco printer Lawton Kennedy, which featured various treasures found in California library collections and were given as mementos to members of the Book Club of California.  This among many other examples of Lawton Kennedy’s work can be found in the California Historical Society’s Kemble collection of printing ephemera. 

A Happy and Safe New Year’s to All! 

Jaime Michele Henderson, Project Archivist 
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