Theme and Grand Marshal
"Inspiring Stories" is the theme of the 126th Rose Parade presented by Honda.
The very nature of this theme allows us to reflect on and appreciate many people around us who elevate the human spirit by who they are, what they have done, and what they continue to do. It pays tribute to those who have loved unconditionally, persevered courageously, endured patiently and accomplished much on behalf of others.
They may be "heroes" or "stars" to some, but they don't seek such titles. They may be kind, resilient, free-spirited or intensely focused, and though different from one another, they are all inspiring because they have overcome obstacles, achieved the unthinkable, given immeasurably or sacrificed unselfishly. Whether for justice, for charity, or for any other good, they do so humbly and with resolve. It is the story of their journey that enriches our lives regardless of the fulfillment of the purpose.
The people we select to be a part of our year-long preparation for America’s New Year Celebration – whether it is part of the Rose Parade or the Rose Bowl Game -- will share their stories in an effort to inspire others.
Grand Marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade
2015 Rose Parade Grand Marshal Louis Zamperini
Olympian and World War II prisoner of war, Louis Zamperini, a true American hero who survived excessive hardships will be the Grand Marshal for the 2015 Rose Parade, themed "Inspiring Stories." Despite Mr. Zamperini's passing, the Tournament of Roses is dedicated to honoring him as the Grand Marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade.
Zamperini wrote his personal history in the book "Devil at My Heels" and his life story was documented in the New York Times best-selling book, "Unbroken," written by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Laura Hillenbrand. In December 2014, Universal Pictures will release the movie, "Unbroken," a feature adaptation of the book. Born in 1917 to Italian immigrants, Zamperini moved to Torrance, California in 1919 and became a world-class runner by the end of high school. Qualifying to run in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, he was America’s top finisher in the 5000 meter run, finishing the final lap in 56 seconds and causing Adolf Hitler to request a personal meeting with the track star.
During World War II, Zamperini retired from running and joined the U.S. Armed Forces as a bombardier in the South Pacific. While on a reconnaissance mission, Zamperini’s aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean. He and a crewmate survived for 47 days in shark-infested waters eventually drifting into a Japanese-controlled region where he was held and tortured for another two years. He survived the brutality of the war and came back to Southern California where he was treated like a hero and celebrated for his longevity. Zamperini married, had a family and started on a quest of forgiveness as an inspirational speaker – meeting with and forgiving the Japanese military guards who tortured him.
Zamperini lectured around the world on how to deal with stress, the meaning of Olympic spirit and the freedom he found through a personal relationship with God.
Louis Zamperini joined the impressive ranks of those who have fulfilled this role before.
The Rose Parade is broadcast live in the U.S. by several networks/stations. Please refer to our list of broadcasters or check your local listings. For seating and ticket information, please see our Tickets and Events page.