This year will mark the first time that not one of the flower-covered floats set to appear at the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day was constructed in Pasadena. Thanks to high real estate prices, the giant warehouses where the colorful floats are built have moved to different cities. The float-building tradition in Pasadena began in 1890 to promote tourism in California. For years, the Tournament of Roses organization, which runs the parade, rented warehouses in Pasadena and then decided it wanted to buy its own buildings to avoid paying increasing rent. Lance Tibbet, Tournament of Roses president, stated,
When we looked for a new facility certainly, we wanted to stay in Pasadena, but unfortunately the fact of the matter is that buying a building for us is a big step to begin with. And pricey. So Irwindale offers a much more attractive value.
This year, the organization completed its transition to new warehouses in Azusa and Irwindale, because it was no longer economically feasible to remain in Pasadena. Apart from the price barriers, it was difficult to find buildings with enough indoor space for floats that can be up to 55 feet long and 16 feet tall. Testing them on open streets in Pasadena had become increasingly difficult in the two locations the Tournament of Roses rented. The new buildings in Irwindale and Azusa have far more space for the hundreds of float decorating volunteers. The convoy of mostly-decorated floats takes six to eight hours for the journey to Pasadena, but at least it will provide a free sneak peek for the families who know when to come out to watch the floats.