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2021 Rose Parade Canceled For 1st Time Since WWII Due To Coronavirus Threat


The coronavirus pandemic has reigned on next year's Rose Parade. It normally marks the start of the new year. Here's NPR's Mandalit del Barco with some more.


MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Since 1890, the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, Calif., has been a New Year's tradition - a 5-1/2-mile parade of marching bands and hand-decorated floats.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Each flower petal, wood chip, even sesame seed is applied with love to the beautiful floats...

DEL BARCO: The parade is broadcast as a prelude to the annual Rose Bowl college football game. While next January's game is still on, the parade is not, for the first time in 75 years. David Eads is executive director and CEO of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

DAVID EADS: Obviously, we do not want to be a superspreader event. And, you know, with 700,000 people to 1 million people along the parade route, obviously the risk of infection is great if we're not able to social distance.

DEL BARCO: Eads says his organization consulted with public health experts at USC, who couldn't guarantee the pandemic will be under control by January.

EADS: At the end of the day, it's the health and well-being of all of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteers.

DEL BARCO: Only World War II has stopped the Rose Parade from happening before. It's been a tradition for people like Tony White, who remembers the first time he marched in the parade as a high school student.

TONY WHITE: Oh, my God. We played Ghostbusters. That was a big thing in 1985.

DEL BARCO: White went from playing the cymbals to the saxophone, and for 22 years, he's directed the Los Angeles Unified School District's all-district high school honor marching band.


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: One, two, three, four.


DEL BARCO: Tim (ph) White is sad the parade's been canceled.

WHITE: It's really bittersweet for us, for our students especially and our staff. This would have been our 49th consecutive year of being involved with the Tournament of Roses.

DEL BARCO: This would have been the first time at the Rose Parade for the Georgia State University Panther Band. Chester Phillips is the director.

CHESTER PHILLIPS: We're certainly disappointed and heartbroken for the students that will graduate and aren't going to be able to participate this year in the 2021 parade. But I fully support their decision and understand the impossible situation they were in.

DEL BARCO: Phillips says they had hoped to perform Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."

PHILLIPS: We'll just hold onto that for the future (laughter), and we won't stop believing that we'll have a chance to be out there in 2022.

DEL BARCO: If it's safe by then, this year's chosen bands will be marching in the Rose Parade.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.