For decades, the parade has been a marquee attraction of the Texas Rose Festival. Queen's Coronation participants riding on large floats, marching bands, silly clowns and colorful Shriner units all are traditional participants in the largest procession in the region.
"All of that is brought together for the sole purpose of entertaining and giving back to the community that supports the Texas Rose Festival year in and year out," said Will Knous, a member of The Strutters, the volunteer group that plans and stages the parade. "So, when we began planning this year's parade, we were looking for a way to really try to get people even more excited about things — we want them to not only feel like they are a part of the parade, we want them to actually take part!"
Community groups that would like to be in the parade can download an application on the website www.texasrosefestival.net/home/festival/parade.
"One easy way that almost anyone can be a part of the parade is to apply and participate," Knous said. "It doesn't cost much, and it's always a blast getting together with a group to decorate a float or plan a routine to show off to thousands of people on the streets of Tyler."
This year, the Strutters will award cash prizes to groups who have the best float or other type of entry.
"We really want people to get creative and enjoy it, and the more people we have, the better the prizes will be," Knous said. "We're all very excited to see what the people of East Texas will be coming up with. We're always amazed and surprised each year, and we hope with the addition of the contest to this year's parade, everyone will take things to the next level."
The Strutters strive to make the parade fun and entertaining for the thousands who line the streets or watch from inside Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
"Each year the Texas Rose Festival has something new and interesting that we try to incorporate to engage the community and get them excited about the parade," Knous said. "Over the years it's been everything from a wide variety of celebrities and dignitaries participating, to homegrown talent wowing the crowds. We've had incredible music (in the parade) from across the country, as well as right here in our own back yard.
"Just this past year, there were world-class BMX riders, mixed in with local marching bands and acrobats doing backflips on pogo sticks 20-feet in the air," he said.
Among the entries this year will be XPogo, a team of pogo stick athletes famous for breath-taking tricks and backflips; a BMX pro stunt team including Tyler's own Morgan Wade who won a gold medal earlier this year in X-Games competition in the thrilling "big air" division; stiltwalkers towering high above the crowd; a world record juggler; members of the Dallas Unicycle Club; and gigantic monster trucks.
The parade has always been part of the Rose Festival, a celebration of region's rose-growing heritage.
Parade organizers noted that in the early years, rose growers supplied hundreds of dozens of rose blooms and that garden club members stayed up all night prior to the parade using the roses to decorate entries.
Rose growers still offer blooms and volunteers still help decorate floats with lots of live roses.
The Texas Rose Parade is set to step off at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. It will assemble at Front Street and Glenwood Boulevard and follows a route west on Front, through the East Texas State Fairgrounds and ending inside Rose Stadium.
"It's going to be a blast, and we can't wait to see everyone on Oct. 19," Knous said.