The Rose Parade: 1950~1963

If there was one thing that would get people to use color film from the 1940's to the 1960's, it would definitely be a parade.  In several months of collecting vintage slides, I have encountered numerous parade photos that have been featured on the Classic Kodachrome features, with more to come. These are interesting not only for their inclusion of people of the era, but also for the backdrops that were otherwise ignored as photo worthy during this era.  

A few months ago, I spotted an auction for a number of boxes of Kodachrome slides of one of the most famous parades, the Tournament of Roses Parade held in Pasadena, California, and now in its 126th year.  I placed the opening bid of $15.00 and expected an outbid, but it never happened.  I won the lot, and was now the owner of a fascinating slice of history.  And so today, as the parade marches on, it seemed like the appropriate time to spotlight a nice selection of these shots.

The photos were taken by Walter G. Linz of Santa Ana, California, and cover the 1950, 1951, 1952, and 1963 parades.  While Mr. Linz stayed in the same general spot for each parade, he at least chose unique spots each year, helping not only to vary up the backdrop in these images, but also make it easier to determine which year each was taken.  The Kodachrome stock on which these were taken had buckled a little bit in the mounts as well as exhibited a bit of blistering, but fortunately the use of the Digital ICE technology in the scanner made their importation a rather easy process.  All that was required was a bit of contrast enhancement, tone curve adjustment, and a tweak or two to vibrance. 

So sit back and enjoy four years of the Rose Parade, all of which are at least 50 years old, with some being 65 years young!  


Our images begin at the very advent of the iconic 1950's, at a location east of the main business district of Pasadena.  The address of Johnson Motor Parts reads 2097, putting this near the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Craig Avenue.  The area looks nothing like this today.     


In 1951, Mr. Linz set up shop across from the Krell Buick Dealer at Colorado and Wilson to snap these photos.  Included among the floats were displays for Stockton, Sierra Madre, and Alhambra.  The building prominent in the backdrop remains as an auto body shop, though it lacks the flourishes evident here.  


For the 1952 Parade, Mr. Linz stationed himself to the east of the landmark Academy Theater on Colorado Boulevard at Catalina Avenue, about a block west of where he was in 1951.  A very modernized version of the Academy remains today lacking the charm of the one seen here.  A number of community floats can be seen here, including those from Gardena, Bakersfield, and Burbank. 


The 1963 set may not actually be the work of Mr. Linz, as the mounts lack the stamps of the previous decade.  As well, they are positioned from the north side of the street giving a different perspective.  Still, the overcast skies make positioning on the south side of the street less pivotal.  Fortunately, a helpful "ghost" site similar to one I used to host pinpoints the location of the former Foothill Motors at Colorado Boulevard and Holliston Avenue, and the partially obscured sign remains today, with the lot in the foreground now hosting a McDonalds.