The Rose Queen and Royal Court, ephemeral staples of the Tournament of Roses parade, will not be a part of the tournament’s scaled-back New Year’s Day festivities for 2021, organizers announced Monday morning, Oct. 12.
While the Tournament of Roses canceled the annual parade over the summer, citing coronavirus concerns, marking only the fourth cancellation in its 132-year history, the fate of the Rose Queen and Royal Court was left up in the air.
The Tournament of Roses has said there will be a smaller-scale replacement event for New Year’s Day — instead of the flamboyant, floral extravaganza that takes over Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard every Jan. 1 — but it’s still unclear what the event will entail.
Whatever it ends up being, the Rose Queen and Royal Court will not be a part of it. “After thoughtful consideration, and due to the cancelation of the 2021 Rose parade, this year’s selection process for the Royal Court has been postponed and will resume in the fall of 2021,” the tournament’s Monday news release reads. “We look forward to continuing the treasured legacy and celebrating the 2022 Royal Court.”
Organizers said anyone who would have been eligible to be on the Royal Court in 2021 will be able to apply for the 2022 pageantry when, hopefully, the world is back to normal and the parade can go forward as planned.
Part of an enduring tradition, the Rose Queen and Royal Court are selected from a pool of well-spoken and civically-minded high school students from the Pasadena area after a rigorous selection process.
In 2019, the Royal Court crowned its first openly LGBTQ Rose Queen, who doubled and tripled as its first Jewish queen, and the first queen who wore glasses.
In 2020, the Tournament of Roses changed the wording in its announcements and applications, dropping the words “women” and “ladies” in favor of the gender-neutral “individual.”
Organizers said the language shift was meant to reflect the inclusiveness of the Royal Court. When asked, they said transgender applicants have always been welcome to apply, but contestants must identify as female to win their ride on a Rose Parade float.
After the court and queen are selected, the seven young women spend much of the fall and winter doing hundreds of hours of community service and other Tournament of Roses-related events in the build up to the New Year’s Day parade.
They all received $7,500 in scholarship money in 2020 — three-times more than previous years.
Source: Orange County Register