My name is Raymond, and I’m a Sagittarius… ok, just kidding. I was born in Compton, California and raised in Pasadena, or ‘Dena as we locals call it. A product of the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) from Altadena Elementary, Loma Alta Elementary, Elliott Jr. High, Marshall Fundamental and John Muir High School, I am a graduate of both Pasadena City College and the University of La Verne.
In 2006, I retired from law enforcement after 21 years of working for the City of Pasadena and the PUSD School Police departments. Currently, I have my own travel business, where I work from home, and I occasionally work as a rideshare driver. I love to travel the world and had a fantastic summer in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria last year. I attended a Formula 1 race and had the pleasure of doing The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, Austria with my wonderful daughter. I have a sense of humor, and I was paid, once, to do comedy, so technically, I am a paid comedian.
Relationship with Pasadena…
I was raised here, schooled here, worked here and volunteered here. To come back as a police officer and see some of my former teachers, and even have them remind me of some fun and embarrassing things from my past has been a joy. They would often remind me, “You’re the one who kissed that girl goodbye every day after school.” Who knew they were watching that close? Daily? I was young and in love, or so I thought. I have enjoyed giving back to Pasadena and in particular, its youth, including being a coach for girls’ and boys’ basketball.
Rose Parade Ties…
In 2001, I realized that I was pretty much done with partying on New Year’s Eve (sort of) and so I joined the Tournament of Roses. I had worked the streets as a police officer along the parade route. I knew some people who were Members, including Gerald Freeny, Brad Ratcliff and Otis Triplett (my former barber when I had hair). Gerald and Otis approached me and suggested I consider becoming a Member. They both wrote letters of recommendation, and the rest is history. I have always said, when I stop having fun, I will leave the TOR. But, 21 years later, I am still here.
One early memory I have as a volunteer was working in the formation area at Arroyo Boulevard and Grand Avenue. I had packed a lunch, brought a portable TV and was prepared for a “sleepy night.” I could not have been more wrong. It was so busy I never ate the food or watched TV. Most, or all, traffic from the 110 freeway was directed my way. I know my city, so I was able to give great directions to various parties and other destinations in Pasadena. I even asked folks to bring me food back, which some did, along with other items [laughter]. I discovered a home a few feet away that feeds TOR members simply because they appreciate us. I thought that was cool.
This past year, I was the captain of the Equestrian Committee’s Equestrian Reception. I received a gift basket from the Hawaii Pa’u Riders organization in appreciation of the work done at the reception. It was full of so many amazing, Hawaii treats and knickknacks. I was not expecting the gift, and it was wonderful to receive. I hope to continue to have fun. I also hope that I can be an inspiration for newer Members who wonder if it’s worth it to be a Member at all. I also hope that before I leave, I have the opportunity to be an At-Large Executive Committee Member and add to the TOR from that position.
When looking at the future of the Tournament, if I could have anyone in the Parade living or not, it would be President Barack Obama, simply because of what he and his presidency meant to Black Americans, America as a nation and how it changed the rest of the world’s perception of the United States of America. For those wanting to join TOR, I would first ask them why they want to become a Member, and then remind them to understand the time commitment. I would encourage them to join, with the idea of having fun and enjoying interacting with people. Lastly, I would remind them that there will be no more New Year’s Eve partying, except with TOR, which can be fun once you build those relationships.