In the town of Arcadia, down the way from the iconic Colorado Blvd., Kathy Perini’s journey with the Tournament of Roses began as a childhood adventure. Whether watching on the television or from the parade route on a handcrafted bench from her father, made from an old wooden rocking horse, Kathy’s family made the Rose Parade a timeless family tradition like so many others. Since then, each year she looks forward to the flag being raised as the sun rises, when the PCC Herald Trumpets sound and helicopters can be heard overhead.
She never thought about joining the Tournament of Roses Association, as she was involved in other aspects of her community, but she was encouraged to join by the father of a friend of hers, who had been with the Tournament for years. She was a teacher at the time, so she was thrilled to be part of the experience and share it with her students, as well as modeling to them the importance of community engagement. Though she was not initially accepted when she applied since openings were limited, she was asked to reapply and she is glad she did!
One of the deciding factors for her decision to apply for membership was the Tournament’s emphasis on family, faith, and freedom, and although the brand has changed over time, those basic tenets still exist in one form or another.
In her current role, she serves in leadership as a Director/Chair. She enjoys the opportunity to serve in this capacity and always attempts to make decisions based on what others might appreciate when they serve together, while being sensitive to time outside of Tournament. Although it is an enormous amount of work, she has found it to be rewarding and beneficial in her personal and professional life.
When it comes to Tournament and its Members, Kathy enjoys working side by side with a variety of individuals from all walks of life, building relationships and serving her community on a broader scale. Interfacing with the community and seeing the joy on the faces of those she comes into contact with is the most motivating part of the Tournament experience. Kathy also really enjoys working with the staff and considers them part of her circle of friends and colleagues. She has learned a tremendous amount from the staff as they have added joy to her life and her Tournament experience.
In one of her early years as a Member and as a float aide, while waiting for her float to move into position, she had the opportunity of narrating a video for a family from Idaho. The father of the group was an Idaho potato farmer and had saved and budgeted for over 10 years to be able to bring his family to Pasadena to experience the Rose Parade. It truly put into perspective for her what Members do for others may seem simple at times, but it has tremendous significance to others.
Another stand-out experience in her mind is when she traveled to Alabama as part of her work on the Football Committee. That visit solidified in her mind the true value of what football and the Rose Bowl means to others outside of Pasadena. She had the opportunity to chat with Nick Saban in his office and get to know a bit more about the way the Tuscaloosa community views the Crimson Tide. She had never experienced anything like the level of involvement and excitement for a football team, as was the case in the community. Storefronts were painted with “Roll Tide” on their windows and walls, outdoor tailgating was occurring miles from the stadium and the sheer number of people wearing plaid and some form of Houndstooth patterned clothing was incredible! The impact of legendary coach Bear Bryant was present everywhere. The Walk of Champions path to Bryant-Denny Stadium was exhilarating, with hundreds lining the path and cheering as the team arrived to make their way to the stadium. She also recalls the 9’ bronze statues on the path and one empty spot. They were told, per tradition, coaches who have led the Crimson Tide to a football national championship are represented in the Walk of Champions plaza in their game-day garb…Saban’s statue was unveiled in 2011. Being part of ‘Bama pride for those couple of days and seeing firsthand the status of their Rose Bowl was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for her and one that she will never forget.
Last year, working with the Royal Court, she witnessed firsthand the contributions they make to the local community. With the Court, they were reminded on numerous occasions, the true value and impact of the Tournament on the community, especially its youth.
Many of Kathy’s social interactions, friendships, and business relationships began with her involvement in the Tournament. She remembers learning as a school administrator that life is about relationships. Regardless, of the situation or event, it’s all about people, one’s relationship to them and one’s relationship to their community and values. The Tournament has made a difference in her leadership capacity in the community and further bolstered her skill set in numerous ways.
For the last 35 years, the Tournament has been part of Kathy’s life and that of her family. It has expanded her abilities, challenged her as a person, and afforded her opportunities she would not have had as an educator. She has done things, visited places, and met people she would’ve never met. She’s had to hold her own in high-pressure situations, she has been stretched and bettered by her involvement with the Tournament. It is part of who she is, and she is extremely proud and thankful for the opportunity to volunteer in this capacity.
Kathy looks forward to staying involved and being an example to other Members, as so many before her have been to her. The role of the Member will continue to evolve because the Parade and Game are evolving. Kathy believes it is important to maintain the relational component of the Member experience. As long as everyone strives to listen to one another, work collectively, acknowledge the inherent value of the volunteer experience and communicate across all aspects of the Association towards a common goal, the future of the Tournament and its Membership will continue to withstand the test of time.
Kathy says a successful Parade season is all about having the right attitude and having fun, while trying to make the experience fun for all that she might meet or work alongside.