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Q & A

The Little Old Parade From Pasadena

December 29, 1991|Steven Herbert | Times Staff Writer

The Tournament of Roses Parade is television's most covered parade, with ABC, CBS and NBC airing the event nationally, along with KTLA and KTTV locally. Times Staff Writer Steven Herbert talked with a sampling of the people working the parade on camera and behind the scenes about television and Pasadena's 103rd floral spectacular.

Bob Eubanks, KTLA Rose Parade host since 1978

Will the various controversies over the parade, such as the selection of the grand marshal and having the queen selected by an all-male panel, have an impact on the parade itself New Year's Day?

There's always some form of controversy, but I don't think it will have any effect on the parade. I'm very happy that they have the two grand marshals (after Native Americans protested the selection of a descendant of Christopher Columbus). I think that was a very wise decision to make.

I think that the queen who was chosen is a delightful and very beautiful young lady. The bottom line is that this is the most beautiful parade in the world, and we need to take our hats off to the people who put it on. They do a great job.

How would you describe your style as a parade commentator?

Whereas the networks try to use their personalities to promote the shows that they have, Stephanie Edwards and I treat the parade as if it were a true event. We divide the parade up into mini-specials. Every float that comes down that boulevard, we could probably talk about for maybe 10 minutes.

Reviewers seemingly always want parade commentators to talk less and say they talk too much. How do you react to that?

I happen to agree with that. You don't have to say everything that you see. However, if you recall when (NBC) showed the NFL game (in 1980) without commentators, it was not successful.

It is our job to enhance the pictures. If we get in the way of the pictures, then we're not doing our job. I try to disseminate information that I think would be interesting to the general populace that they would not know by just watching.

Bill Welsh, KTTV Rose Parade commentator who begin doing the parade 45 years ago for KTLA

From what I've read, in the past the parade was much less formal and you could go out and talk to people in the parade. Do you miss that?

Oh yes. That was fun. I think I could probably climb up on the Queen's float if they would stop it and let me do so, but that was one of those things when you're doing the parade for the first time--how do you do it? Nobody knew because no one had done it before.

So here comes the queen. I think people would like to hear from her, so I flag down her float. The networks began to complain in the 1950s because they wanted to get out of there on time and go to their bowl games in the East and I wasn't helping the parade get along.

As we see from ratings, people prefer to watch the parade on local stations rather than the networks. Why do you think that is?

We spend more time talking to people about things they want to hear about. Announcers on local stations aren't plugging their upcoming TV series. There are no cutaways to go away to commercials.

I used to hear that there was one orange juice that was (advertised) on one of the networks, and someone told me, "I'll never drink it again. They took too much of the parade away from me." In contrast to some of the Eastern announcers, we know how to pronounce the Spanish words out here like La Canada. It has been called La Canada (like the country) for the network audience.

Do you see that there is a rivalry between your station and KTLA?

It's a friendly, but fierce rivalry. I'm good friends with a lot of people at KTLA, but I'm ready to challenge them as much as I can on New Year's Day. I'm calling the next day to see what the ratings are and who won. I know it will be between the two of us and the networks will be trailing behind.

Beth Ruyak, rookie Rose Parade host for ABC (joining her "Home" co-host, Gary Collins)

Have you ever seen a Rose Parade in person?

Never. Never in person, so I have to keep my wits about me, keep working and not just stare. I'm excited to smell the air that day. That's the one time maybe we should have scratch and sniff television to appreciate the rich smell as well as the color and beauty of the parade.

What are some of your memories of the parade watching it on television growing up in Minnesota?

I don't think there is a New Year's Day without watching the Rose Parade and the football game. That was always a family event for us, the one day it was fine to stay glued to the television set from morning until afternoon. There would always be food and family rotating in and out of the room, but especially as children, to begin the day with the Rose Parade was the best part of that holiday.

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