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Monday, January 2, 2017

The "Did You Know About Spooking Horses?" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just got off the phone with my friend Jerry who lives in State College, Pennsylvania.  You know ... the same place where Penn State University is located.  I bring this up because today is the day that the Nittany Lions will be playing in
The first Tournament of Roses event in California. Click to enlarge.
the Rose Bowl against the University of Southern California Trojans.  The 5th ranked and 9th ranked college teams in the nation will go head to head in the Rose Bowl football game.  We talked about watching the game and the fact that the game wasn't played January 1st as it always is.  I told Jerry that I thought it might have something to do with the fact that the National Football League was playing their final games on the 1st and didn't want to conflict with the pro games.  
Chariot races in 1911 were part of the original events.
Then Jerry said, "Sue said it has something to do with the Rose Bowl Parade and the fact that the game and parade are never played on Sunday, since the parade sponsors wanted to avoid spooking the horses that would be hitched outside churches along the parade route."  Wow, I never heard that before!  Didn't argue with Jerry since I had no idea that was the reason.  Actually thought Sue may have made that up to kid Jerry.  Anyway, I had to pull it up on my MacBook and find out about the history of the parade and game and see what was the real reason for no parade or game on Sunday when that happens to be January 1.  
The front of the Rose Bowl which was built in 1923.
Well, the events both began in 1890 when those living on the West Coast decided they wanted to promote the "Mediterranean of the West" so they invited their East Coast neighbors to spend New Year's Day with them to watch games in a warmer climate such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war in Pasadena, California.  Since there happened to be an abundance of blooms in the area, they proposed a parade to precede the events planned.  During the next few years marching bands were added to the mix as well as floats.  The town's lot where the event was held was eventually named in 1900 as Tournament Park.  
Floats as they appear in the parade today.
That year ostrich races, bronco busting  and a race between a camel and an elephant were added.  Reviewing stands were built along the parade route and the rest is history as they say.  The first Rose Bowl Game was played in 1902 and not even played on New Year's Day until 1916.  It was played to help offset the cost of putting on the parade.  The Rose Bowl Game was the first post-season football game in the nation and after the 1902 game was replaced with chariot races until 1916 when football returned.  
Aerial view of the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.
The current Rose Bowl Stadium was built for the 1923 game.  This year's parade will feature 44 different floats, more than 400 horses and 22 marching bands.  All floats in the parade are required to have all exterior surfaces covered in organic materials such as flowers, fruits, bark, etc.  And, the game between USC and Penn State will still be held in the Rose Bowl Stadium as in the past 93 years.  Sue was most certainly right when she said the parade and game are never held on January 1 when it falls on a Sunday due to the fact that way back years ago, when it started, they didn't want to spook the horses of those in nearby churches when the parade passed by.  Learn something new every day.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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