Members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club organized the first Tournament of Roses Parade in 1890. They wanted to share the beauty of the southern California climate. The Hunt Club felt the event would be a great way to celebrate the flowers that were in bloom in Pasadena while the residents in many other states in the U.S. were shoveling snow. The festival included a parade of marching bands and floats. Two thousand people were in attendance at the first year's celebration. Each year the parade and events surrounding it grew bigger and better. It wasn't long before eastern newspapers began reporting on this colorful event.
By 1895, the Tournament had grown so much that a Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge. This helped support the event so that it could continue to grow. New events, such as ostrich races, were added. One year there was also a race between a camel and an elephant. (The elephant won.) In 1902, the association decided to add a football game to the festivities. Even though their season was officially over, Stanford University and the University of Michigan accepted the invitation to play. The University of Michigan tromped Stanford so badly (49-0) that Stanford gave up in the third quarter. The football game was a disappointment. The following year chariot races were held instead.
Football returned to stay in 1916. By 1923, a football stadium had been built to house the growing crowds. The stadium was built to resemble the first modern football stadium, the Yale Bowl. The Tournament of Roses football game soon earned the nickname "The Rose Bowl." Two of the top college teams in the nation now play in the Rose Bowl.