As coronavirus cases drop and vaccinations increase, Los Angeles County is beginning to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel and planning for the return of numerous events, including the Rose Parade.
Organizers say they are actively planning for the parade's return in 2022, after the pandemic forced the cancellation of this year's annual New Year's Day spectacle for the first time in 75 years.
For now, the parade is being planned in its traditional form, David Eads, the Tournament of Roses' executive director, told The Times in an interview. An estimated 45 floats and 60,000 roses are expected to travel 5.5 miles down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.
By mid-summer, organizers will have a better grasp of how the parade will look.
A study conducted for the association by USC's Keck School of Medicine said that by then, the pandemic's outlook will be clearer, which will give organizers time to implement any necessary virus precautions.
But announcing the parade's return wasn't something that could be delayed till then, Eads said.
Most people don't know, but it takes about a year to plan the parade, he said, noting, "We have to start building floats in March so they can be ready in December."
The event next year "could look different from a traditional Rose Parade, but we feel confident with moving forward," Eads said.
The Rose Bowl is also expected to return to Pasadena next year. This year's College Football Playoff semifinal was moved to AT&T Stadium in Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys, because of virus restrictions in California.
The Tournament of Roses had hoped to keep the bowl game in Pasadena, but college football officials wanted to allow players’ families to attend the game. After California health officials rebuffed appeals to allow 400 to 500 spectators in the Rose Bowl — a 95,000-seat stadium that includes more than 50 suites — the game was moved to Texas.
Planning for this year's parade was plagued by the pandemic.
Volunteers who begin building floats in March for the Jan. 1 parade were unable to get started because of state-mandated stay-at-home orders. Dozens of American high school bands scheduled to participate were unable to practice because of school closures. And the five marching bands from Taiwan, Italy, Sweden, Japan and Panama could not travel to California because of restrictions, Eads said.
All international bands, except the one from Taiwan, have committed to attend in 2022. Marching bands from Atlanta, Iowa, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee also said they would travel to Pasadena.
More than 900 parade volunteers have persisted throughout the pandemic, Eads said.
"Our membership has held steady and our members are excited," he said.
Officials announced in July that the parade, which would have been the 132nd, would not go on.
Previously, the last time the parade was canceled was between 1942 and 1945, during World War II.
Organizers plan to reuse this year's theme: "Dream. Believe. Achieve." But, instead of focusing on education, the theme will be expanded to celebrate the perseverance of essential workers and healthcare professionals during the pandemic, organizers said.
The bowl game's move from Pasadena to Texas led to a legal conflict between the Tournament of Roses Assn. and the city of Pasadena. The association filed a lawsuit against the city in February to protect the ownership of the Rose Bowl Game and Rose Bowl trademarks.
Times staff writers J. Brady McCollough, Sam Farmer and Alejandra Reyes-Velarde contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.