The History of the Rose Parade
Roses have provided an enduring theme for San José throughout its history. The first Carnival of Roses was held in 1896, went on for four days and featured 23-year-old Lillian Rea as the first Rose Queen. These celebrations predated the creation of the Municipal Rose Garden (1931). In honor of President McKinley’s visit in 1901, the City of San José planned a rose-themed parade along The Alameda and every float was covered with roses.
The Rose Carnival became Fiesta de Las Rosas in 1926. During the years of the Fiesta de Las Rosas, schoolyards and street corners alike were decorated with roses, flags and banners. A committee planted thousands of rose bushes, giving meaning to the parade theme “Santa Clara Valley, the Rose Garden of the World.” At its peak, the parade boasted 87 floats, 10 bands, 200 mounted riders and a variety of decorated cars. A quarter million spectators were attracted to this “Grand Floral Parade,” which started at the Mission Santa Clara, marched down The Alameda and ended in San José. The last Fiesta de Las Rosas took place in 1969.