Why would an organization that spends thousands of hours a year to put on what might be the most spectacular parade in the world take time on a Saturday to plant shrubs local parks?
Rich Chinen, Executive Vice President of the Tournament of Roses, notes that the Rose Parade cuts through the City of Pasadena from the southwest corner almost to the northwest reaches. “It impacts the community,” he told Examiner. “We want to give back. The Tournament of Roses was founded to bring the community to the world.”
So it makes sense to beautify that community, in partnership with the new presenting sponsor of the post-parade Showcase of Floats, Scotts Miracle-Gro. “We want to be involved in the community,” Chinen said. “When Scotts Miracle-Gro came in, they just had so many great ideas of what they could do.”
He continued, “We’re always looking for good partnerships who sink their teeth into what we do. I love the fact they initiated this partnership with us to give back to the community.”
Almost 200 volunteers—about 80 Tournament of Roses members plus family, friends, and retired members—descended on three Pasadena parks on May 4 to dig in plants chosen by the city. Volunteers started at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts, and were done before 11 a.m.
The Tournament and Miracle-Gro donated $37,000 for the plants and materials, and Miracle-Gro sent 11 pallets of redwood mulch for each park.
City of Pasadena lends expertise in beautifying parks
Pasadena Parks Superintendent Ana Bailey said the city contributed irrigation systems, procured the plant materials, prepared the soil, laid out the gardens, and transported the materials.
Asked if the Parks Department was excited about the project, she replied, “Absolutely! “We have a partnership with the Tournament. We absolutely loved it.” The community sees the outreach the Tournament and Scotts Miracle-Gro are doing, she said.
Two parks were chosen, Robinson Park on the west side of town and Hamilton Park on the east side. The outpouring of volunteers allowed a third to be added, Bailey said. “We chose Brenner because it’s in close proximity to our Rose Bowl and very much a park that’s passed by constantly,” she said. “We wanted to beautify it.” Brenner sits just east of the 210 Freeway on Mountain, the main access road to the Rose Bowl.
“The significance of Robinson Park goes without saying,” Bailey said. The park was named after favorite sons and brothers, Olympian Mack Robinson and baseball great Jackie Robinson. It is home to the first synthetic fields in a Pasadena park and has a gymnasium and community all-purpose room as well as large play areas for children.
Bailey said the majority of the plants chosen for Robinson Park complement the Mediterranean palette that is already there. Coast rosemary, ceanothus, myoporum and rock rose were added to existing plantings.
“Brenner is a true neighborhood park.” she told us. “A lot of kids walk here. It’s nice to add a colorful element.” Brenner Park was the only one of the three to plant roses to tie in with the Tournament. Scores of pink carpet roses were placed where old roses had been removed, and 14 crape myrtle and sweet shade trees were planted.
Photos of the work at Brenner Park are in the slideshow attached to this article.
Hamilton Park is tucked away in a corner of Upper Hastings Ranch, known for its fabulous light displays and themed streets during the Christmas and New Year’s season. “Hamilton had the beginnings of a California native garden,” Bailey said. “All available planting areas now have California natives.”
The next major project that the Tournament, Miracle-Gro and the city will team up on is Central Park, which was designed in 1902. It’s in a prime location, just two blocks south of Colorado Blvd. in Old Pasadena, across the street from the Gold Line Del Mar Station and several restaurants and shops. It’s home to El Centro de Accion Social, a community organization that provides programs and services for children, youth and seniors.
The work will be centralized around the iconic Spanish style building which has a mural of an Aztec warrior painted on the sides. “We will beautify all of the foundation planting around the building,” Bailey said, as well as restoring the large planter to the north of the building and filling in six unused horseshow pits with turf.
“I took out the backboard years ago,” Parks Department employee Carl Jones, said of the horseshow area. Jones spent week doing the prep work for the three parks refurbished on May 4.
“It’s going to be transformative for that area,” Chinen said. “It wasn’t too long ago that Old Pasadena wasn’t that good to visit. Central Park is only going to get better.”
Chinen made the rounds of all three parks, ending up at Brenner. “It’s really fun to see all these people out with their families,” he said. “Many hands make light work.”
“The volunteers were lovely folks to work with, so rarin’ to go,” Bailey affirmed. “We’re excited that it’s done.” Scotts came out OK, as well. “We had a number of people say they love the mulch so much they are going to purchase it for their own yards.”
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