By Maureen Lee Lenker
July 15, 2020 at 03:19 PM EDT
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A New Year's Day tradition is the latest big event to be canceled over coronavirus concerns.

The Tournament of Roses announced Wednesday that there will not be a Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2021, a New Year's ritual that has been ongoing for well over 100 years. The announcement comes as a result of restrictions and guidelines in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, and is in accordance with the projected phase 4 reopening schedule in the state of California.

"The health and well-being of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority," said Bob Miller, 2021 president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, in a statement. "Obviously this is not what any of us wanted, and we held off on announcing until we were absolutely sure that safety restrictions would prevent us from continuing with planning for 132nd Rose Parade."

The parade has been a mainstay since its inception in 1891, and has only been canceled three times previously: in 1942, 1943, and 1945, due to World War II. Traditionally, the parade features its namesake floats, decorated entirely in natural materials, including seeds, greenery, and a vast assortment of flowers including roses. It also features equestrian groups and marching bands as part of its annual festivities.

Though the parade would not take place until Jan. 1, planning would have already been well underway by now. "In addition to the advance planning required by our band and equestrian units, the construction of our floats takes many months and typically requires thousands of volunteers to gather in ways that aren't in compliance with safety recommendations and won't be safe in the coming months," said David Eads, executive director and CEO, in a statement. "While we are extremely disappointed that we are unable to host the parade, we believe that not doing so will prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as protect the legacy of the Rose Parade for generations to come."

The Tournament of Roses says it explored all options, commissioning a feasibility and safety report for the possibility of hosting the parade during the pandemic. The results of the report indicated that the Rose Parade would create a high-risk environment for viral spread, even with the implementation of safety measures like six-foot distancing and face masks.

Plans for the Rose Parade's sister event, the annual Rose Bowl football game, are still in the works. The group also says it still has plans in motion to celebrate the new year in some way on Jan. 1. It is working in conjunction with broadcast partners and sponsors to plan a different celebration. Further details about what that might entail are still to be announced.

For the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick, please visit coronavirus.gov.

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