California’s famous Rose Parade has been cancelled for 2021 because of the impact of the coronavirus on planning for the New Year’s Day tradition and the risk of spreading infections among its huge audience and participants, organisers say.
The Pasadena, California, Tournament of Roses Association says the decision was put off until organisers were certain that safety restrictions would prevent staging of the 132nd parade.
Planning for the Rose Bowl college football game that traditionally follows the parade is continuing, the association said on Wednesday.
The parade is held every January 1 except when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday and the event is pushed to January 2.
Since its inception in 1891, the parade has only not occurred during the wartime years of 1942, 1943 and 1945, the association said.
“The health and wellbeing of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority,” Bob Miller, the 2021 president of the association, said in a statement.
The event is people-intensive, starting with hundreds of members of the association.
Thousands of spectators normally jam the 8-kilometre parade route through Pasadena, some camping out overnight on footpaths to ensure a good view.
For days ahead of time, volunteers work to decorate the flower-laden floats that are the trademark of the parade.
There are also marching bands from across the nation and across the world and equestrian units that not only take part in the parade but in other events.
The association said a feasibility report by public health experts from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine found that even with intensive efforts to ensure social distancing and use of face coverings the event would be a high-risk environment for spread of the virus.
It noted that many attendees would be in high-risk groups such as older people and that national and international travel could cause two-way transmission of infections.
Preparation for each parade normally begins during the preceding February.