Theme and Grand Marshal

Theme of the 2017 Rose Parade

Theme Poster

The 2017 Pasadena Tournament of Roses theme, "Echoes of Success," tells the story of how our character has developed through the selfless contributions of others and celebrates their inspirational gifts. It is a celebration for those people, institutions and organizations that help in the success of others.

Our successes are unique to each of us. Success is not gauged by the final score, not by how much wealth we accumulate and should not be weighed against the accomplishments of others. Success is measured by our own personal satisfaction in knowing that we achieved our utmost by doing our best when facing challenges.

But success cannot be achieved alone. We need the support and influences of others. Family, teachers, friends and coaches contribute to our success. The cheering section at the finish line. The hospital volunteers. The teacher who stays after school to help a struggling student. The parents who drive to all of the soccer games. The little sister who says, “you can do it.”

These influences in our lives, these people of selfless commitment, these “Echoes of Success” make us who we are. The 2017 theme celebrates those who have been instrumental in helping each of us and in helping others achieve success. It’s about the people and cultures that lend us a hand in reaching our destination.

Past parade themes can be found on our Media Resources page under Historical Lists.


Grand Marshal of the 2016 Rose Parade

Ken Burns

2016 Rose Parade Grand Marshal Ken Burns

Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, who has directed and produced some of the most admired documentaries about the history of the United States, was announced today as the 2016 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal. Throughout his almost 40-year career making documentary films, Burns, age 62, has been honored with countless awards, including 14 Emmy® Awards, two Grammy® Awards and two Oscar® nominations. Burns will ride in the 127th Rose Parade® presented by Honda, themed “Find Your Adventure” on January 1, 2016.

Tournament of Roses President, Mike Matthiessen, made the announcement at a public event at Tournament House in Pasadena, during which the 2016 Grand Marshal was revealed through a celebratory documentary video created by Burns --

“Ken Burns is a legendary figure and a great fit for this year’s Rose Parade theme, ‘Find Your Adventure,’” Matthiessen said. “We’re so honored to have someone like Ken, who has devoted his life to telling the story of America, lead the Rose Parade – America’s New Year Celebration® – that provides hope and joy to millions of people around the world.”

The “Find Your Adventure” theme for the 2016 Rose Parade is a result of a unique partnership between the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the U.S. National Park Service, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016. Among Burns’s 2009 film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea focused on the ideas and individuals that helped propel the parks and the National Park Service into existence. The series was filmed over the course of more than six years at some of the country's most spectacular locales, from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon and the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea won Emmy® Awards for “Outstanding Nonfiction Series” and “Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming,” as well as the 2010 CINE Golden Eagle Award.

“The Rose Parade is an annual tradition woven into the fabric of America, so it’s such an honor to be chosen as the Grand Marshal,” said Burns. “I’ve never been to the Parade in person, so this will be a new adventure for me. I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with my family and all the fans of the Rose Parade who will be watching on New Year’s Day.”

Burns quickly became known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentary films, characterized by slowly zooming in and panning to subjects of interest – deemed “The Ken Burns Effect.” Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Burns has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd Wright; Mark Twain; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; which have all aired on PBS. For these accomplishments and more, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored Burns with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the News & Documentary Emmy® Awards in September 2008. Future projects that Burns has in the works include films on Jackie Robinson, the Vietnam War, the history of country music, Ernest Hemingway and the history of stand-up comedy.  Burn’s next film, Jackie Robinson, made with his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon, will air on PBS on April 11 and 12, 2016. 

Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1975 and went on to be one of the co-founders of Florentine Films.


Past Grand Marshals


2016Ken Burns 1951Cpl. Robert S. Gray
2015Louis Zamperini 1950Paul G. Hoffman 
2014Vin Scully 1949Perry Brown
2013Dr. Jane Goodall 1948Gen. Omar Bradley
2012J.R. Martinez 1947Bob Hope 
2011Paula Deen 1946Adm. William Halsey
2010Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III  1945Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover
2009Cloris Leachman 1944Amos Alonzo Stagg
2008Emeril Lagasse 1943Earl Warren 
2007George Lucas 1942Kay Kyser
2006Sandra Day O’Connor 1941E.O. Nay
2005Mickey Mouse 1940Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy
2004John Williams 1939Shirley Temple 
2003Bill Cosby, Art Linkletter, Fred Rogers 1938Leo Carrillo
2002Regis Philbin 1937Eugene Biscailuz
2001Tom Brokaw 1936James V. Allred
2000Roy E. Disney 1935Harold Lloyd
1999Buzz Aldrin, Jackie Robinson (posthumously), Shirley Temple Black, David L. Wolper 1934Adm. William S. Sims
1998Carol Burnett 1933Mary Pickford
1997Carl Lewis, Shannon Miller 1932William May Garland
1996Kermit the Frog 1931Gen. C.S. Farnsworth
1995Juan “Chi Chi” Rodriguez 1930James Rolph
1994William Shatner 1929Marco Hellman
1993Angela Lansbury 1928John McDonald
1992His Grace, Cristobol Colon; Congressman Ben Nighthorse Campbell 1927Dr. C.D. Lockwood
1991Bob Newhart 1926Col. L.J. Mygatt
1990Senator John Glenn 1925Lewis H. Turner
1989Shirley Temple Black  1924Col. George S. Parker
1988Gregory Peck 1923H.L. Gianett
1987Pele 1922Harold Landreth
1986Erma Bombeck 1921W.A. Boucher
1985Lee A. Iacocca 1920Frank G. Hogan
1984Danny Kaye 1919Frank Hunter
1983Merlin Olsen 1918Dr. Z.T. Malaby
1982Jimmy Stewart 1917Dr. C.D. Lockwood
1981Lorne Greene 1916Dr. Francis F. Rowland
1980Frank Sinatra 1915M.S. Pashgian
1979Lathrop K. Leishman 1914Charles Daggett 
1978Former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford 1913Leigh Guyer
1977Roy Rogers and Dale Evans 1912E.H. Groenendyke
1976Kate Smith 1911Dr. Ralph Skillen 
1975Henry L. “Hank” Aaron 1910Dr. Francis F. Rowland
1974Charles M. Schulz 1909Walter S. Wright
1973John Wayne 1908Dr. Ralph Skillen
1972Lawrence Welk 1907Dr. Ralph Skillen 
1971Reverend Billy Graham 1906John B. Miller
1970Apollo 12 Astronauts:  Alan L. Bean, Charles Conrad Jr., Richard F. Gordon Jr. 1905Dr. Francis F. Rowland
1969Bob Hope  1904Dr. Francis F. Rowland
1968Everett Dirksen 1903C.C. Reynolds 
1967Thanat Khoman 1902C.C. Reynolds 
1966Walt Disney 1901Charles Daggett 
1965Arnold Palmer 1900Charles Daggett 
1964Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower 1899Martin H. Weight
1963Dr. William H. Pickering 1898Martin H. Weight
1962Albert D. Rosellini 1897Edwin Stearns 
1961William F. Quinn 1896Edwin Stearns 
1960U.S. Vice President Richard M. Nixon  1895Dr. H.H. Sherk
1959E.L. “Bob” Bartlett 1894Dr. Francis F. Rowland
1958Robert Gordon Sproul 1893No Grand Marshal
1957Eddie Rickenbacker 1892Dr. Francis F. Rowland
1956Charles E. Wilson 1891No Grand Marshal
1955Earl Warren  1890Dr. Francis F. Rowland
1954Gen. William F. Dean    
1953Senator Richard M. Nixon   
1952Medal of Honor Men:  Lt. Stanley Adams, Capt. Raymond Harvey, Lt. Thomas Hudner, Sgt. Ernest Kouma, Capt. Lewis Millet, Sgt. Joseph Rodriguez, Maj. Carl Sitter

Download a PDF of our Grand Marshals from our Media Resources page under Historical Lists.

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