PASADENA, Calif. (May 9, 2014) – Olympian and World War II prisoner of war, Louis Zamperini, a true American hero who survived excessive hardships was announced today as the Grand Marshal for the 2015 Tournament of Roses, themed “Inspiring Stories.” Zamperini, age 97, will ride in the 126th Rose Parade® presented by Honda on January 1, 2015.

Tournament of Roses President, Richard L. Chinen, made the announcement at a press conference and public event at Tournament House in Pasadena. In his remarks, Chinen referred to Zamperini as inspiring in his courage and resilience.

“Louis Zamperini’s life story illustrates the strength of human spirit in many ways. From becoming a young sports hero in Southern California to surviving for 47 days on an inflatable raft in the Pacific Ocean and then persevering for more than two years held in captivity in Japan, Louis now lives as an enduring symbol of perseverance, heroism and forgiveness. His life is truly a series of ‘Inspiring Stories,’ and I am elated and humbled that he accepted our invitation to be the 2015 Grand Marshal.”

“It is such an honor to be the Grand Marshal of the 126th Rose Parade,” said Zamperini. “Growing up in Torrance, the parade route on Colorado Boulevard is one I have been familiar with my whole life. I look forward to sharing the experience with my family and all the fans of the Rose Parade who will be watching.”

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 currently lectures around the world on how to deal with stress, the meaning of Olympic spirit and the freedom he has found through a personal relationship with God.

About the Pasadena Tournament of Roses®

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that annually hosts The Rose Parade presented by Honda, The Rose Bowl Game® and a variety of associated events. The Tournament’s 935 volunteer members act as ambassadors of the organization within the community and serve on one of 31 committees that ensure the success of the parade and game. Collectively, they contribute upwards of 80,000 hours of manpower each year. For additional information on the Tournament of Roses please visit the official website at www.tournamentofroses.com.

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For more information, press only:

Andrea Fox, Tournament of Roses, 626-449-4100, [email protected]

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