The Rose Bowl, which is played annually in Pasadena, Calif., is arguably the most prestigious bowl game although this can be argued now that college football usually decides its national champion elsewhere. But there is just something special about everything that surrounds this historic game, including the Tournament of Roses Parade, which takes place early on the morning of the big game.
In fact, the Rose Parade used to be the focus of this day’s celebrations. The inaugural one took place in 1890, 12 years before the first Rose Bowl game. In 1902, parade organizers came up with the idea of adding a football game to the festivities to help fund the parade; Michigan knocked off Stanford, 49-0, in that contest. Although another Rose Bowl game would not take place until 1916, it then became an annual tradition.
The first eight Rose Bowls were played at Tournament Park, a facility that also regularly hosted horse shows. It still exists today as South Athletic Field; Caltech’s track and field team hosts meets here. Every Rose Bowl from 1923 until today have been played at the Rose Bowl stadium with the exception of one.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred in Hawaii. As a result, the United States was concerned that Japan would then attack a site on the West Coast, and the Rose Bowl, which was scheduled less than four weeks later, appeared to be an attractive target. Eight days after the attack, the parade and game were cancelled.
But the game was only cancelled for a day as Duke University, one of the participants, invited Oregon State University and the Rose Bowl to its campus in Durham, N.C., an invitation that was quickly accepted by all involved. In the contest, the Beavers played well 2,900 miles from home and beat Duke by a 20-16 score.