Joining the Tournament of Roses is like becoming part of a family, and for Chris Richardson, this sentiment holds true, as his father and brother are members alongside him. Having marched in the Parade three times in college, Chris is no stranger to the rigor and work ethic it takes to make it down the route. Chris has had the privilege and honor of playing piccolo for Pasadena City College in the 1992, 1993 and 1994 Rose Parades. “There is nothing like that moment when the sun is shining as you’re playing ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses,’” Chris says, “as you round TV Corner when you see all of Colorado Boulevard ahead of you.”
Chris joined the Tournament as a Member in 2003, after a heartfelt discussion at the dinner table on Christmas, when his brother and dad went on and on about the amazing memories they were making year after year. At the time, his dad had been a Member for eight years and his brother for two. With a little family pressure and FOMO (fear of missing out), along with some encouragement, he made the leap into one of the best decisions of his life – becoming a Member of the Tournament of Roses.
Some of Chris’ best memories have come from when he was captain of an event like Bandfest. And, though his dad is a Member of the Auxiliary Committee and his brother serves on a different committee, they pull for each other and support one another no matter what, whether it is a plus one at a reception or a volunteer need for an event like Queen’s Luncheon. “It makes our relationship closer. We love showing up for each other,” he says. His best memories continue to be going to Dad’s house after the Parade to laugh and swap stories of the day. As Chris puts it, “With us, it’s a package deal.”
Having served on various committees including Food Services, Student Ambassadors, Membership Development, Music and Community Relations, and now as a Vice Chair of Alumni Social Media, Chris is proud of the relationships and friendships he has developed over his 20-year span as a member. Chris mentions it can be daunting when you first join Tournament, but having cemented in some long-lasting relationships has made his involvement as a Member such a joyous time.
First having gone to Pasadena City College, and then Washington State University to study Communications, Chris has remained true to his community involvement — whether that be his family, band buddies or his Pasadena area home. After college, he stepped into a marketing and sales role as a manager for retailer “Relax The Back” in West Hollywood, where he became very actively involved with the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. He then made a jump into telefundraising, where he worked for a variety of causes – political, artistic and everything in between. After some years, Chris went back to school to get his interior design degree at the Art Institute, and now he is involved in both interior design and property management.
Chris finds that his varied resume and career path merges with Tournament in interesting ways. Communication skills are important in Tournament, and whether you are trying to run a meeting or creating content with others, there is a need to find synergy across departments and committees. His sense of aesthetics arrives even when he reminisces on a previous time when he coordinated the tables and place settings at the Community Reception, and the color scheme so happened to resemble the crimson and gray color palette of his alma mater, Washington State University.
During his time as a Member, there have been some incredible full circle moments. In 2022, 30 years after he marched as a band member in his first Rose Parade that he marched, Chris was on the Music Committee where he had the opportunity to walk Pasadena City College around TV Corner. Many of the directors and coaches were individuals who walked with Chris when he was a Member of the band in the 90s so together, they turned the corner together just one more time.
Another full-circle moment for Chris was when he was invited to a special LBTQ+ Pride Reception at Tournament House at the start of June. The event brought together leaders, dignitaries and esteemed individuals in the area to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community on Tournament grounds. Mayor Pro Tem Martin Herrera for the City of El Monte, District 2, who spoke to the group during the afternoon’s festivities, was coincidentally also the drum major for Pasadena City College when Chris was part of the marching band in the 1992 Rose Parade.
Chris says that as a child of the 1980s, as well as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it has been special for him to see the evolution of the queer community in the City of Pasadena and the Greater Los Angeles area, as well as in the Tournament of Roses organization. He says it is huge for the organization to embrace diversity, not only in the Members, but also in its leadership, whether that diversity is sexual orientation, color or any other area. Tournament House is opening its doors – figuratively and literally – as it makes the statement that everyone is welcome and is ready to embrace people as they are.
Looking ahead to the upcoming 2024 Rose Parade, Chris is eagerly anticipating the integration of this year’s theme, Celebrating a World of Music, as a backdrop to the upcoming festivities. Chris says he still loves it all and lives for Bandfest, the music and the whole parade.
“Every Parade has its own energy, and as the moments pass, I love to see the full realization that what starts on paper at the start of each year becomes this big, beautiful, symbolic floral pageant that helps the world bring in the start of a new year,” said Chris. “We are top of the ladder. There is no replica for what the Tournament of Roses does.”