Every year, people watch colorful floats, horse-drawn carriages and marching bands make their way down the streets of Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day. That won’t happen next year.
Last week, officials cancelled the 132nd Tournament of Roses Parade because of concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. It marks the first time since 1945 that the parade has been cancelled. It also means Scouts won’t be marching in the parade to help welcome the new year — a tradition dating back to 1966.
Eagle Scouts from the Greater Los Angeles Area Council and Gold Award Girl Scouts are selected to form the Tournament Troop, a group that leads the opening flag ceremony and carries banners ahead of award-winning floats.
Ethan Coe-Renner, an Eagle Scout with Troop 21 in Pasadena, was part of the Tournament Troop this year. Ethan has cerebral palsy, a condition affecting his motor skills and balance, a source of many falls. Scouting has helped him face those physical challenges, his mother Kerrianne says.
“In Scouts, Ethan pushed to do the things that felt scary and impossible,” she says. “Scouting encouraged him to celebrate his natural gifts and to excel in his interests. In Scouts, Ethan learned to respect others, but he also learned to expect and receive respect for himself. He understands that he has much to give to others regardless of his physical differences.”
One thing he could give was his best effort, representing his troop, his council and Scouting as more than 30 million watched in-person, on TV and on social media.
Kerrianne recounted watching him prepare for the day, awake at 2 a.m., looking forward to the 7-mile hike in his neatly pressed field uniform.
“As I watched him ready himself for the day ahead, I found myself hoping again that he would have a great experience with zero falls,” she says.
When she was seated and the parade started, she began receiving text messages from friends further up the route who spotted Ethan marching, waving the crowd and helping carry the banner.
“We could see, hear and read as others cheered him along in his journey,” Kerrianne says. “It was truly amazing!”
At the end of the parade, Ethan was tired, thirsty and his pants were ripped from falling. Still, he finished the journey to the cheers of the crowd, his friends and family. It was a reminder to his mother what Scouting is all about.
“Scouting is not about creating perfect men and women,” Kerrianne says. “Scouting is about empowering and equipping young women and men to meet challenges by standing up after every fall, looking ahead and continuing towards the goal. And that made Ethan’s New Year’s Day 2020 victorious!”
Hopefully, we’ll get to watch more Scouts march in the Tournament of Roses Parade in 2022. And hopefully, your unit will have the opportunity in the near future to participate in parades in your community. Before they do, make sure to review these safety protocols for participating in parades. You should also check the Guide to Safe Scouting for rules if your Scouts will be riding on a float or hayride.
Special thanks to Dylan Shen and Bailey Shen for photos from the 2020 Rose Parade.