Rose Parade Entry Honors Riverside Landmark’s “Keepers”

After a 60-year hiatus, the City of Riverside has decided to once again sponsor a float in the Rose Parade. This year’s theme of “Making a Difference” has inspired the City of Riverside and the Greater Riverside Chamber Foundation to participate.

After a 60-year hiatus, the City of Riverside has decided to once again sponsor a float in the Rose Parade. This year’s theme of “Making a Difference” has inspired the City of Riverside and the Greater Riverside Chamber Foundation to participate in the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade.

Riverside’s Landmark Hotel

Riverside is celebrating the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, and the fact that the Roberts Family has made a huge difference in our community over the past two and a half decades. This year’s Tournament of Roses President, Lance Tibbet, explains this year’s theme in this way, “The 2018 theme, ‘Making a Difference,’ is a way to honor and celebrate all of the people in our communities, who quietly and without desire for reward or recognition, act in selfless, generous and kind ways to aid or benefit others.” The timing of this recognition couldn’t be better as we are celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn over the next month.

Riverside would not be the same without its rich cultural and architectural heritage. We are very proud of our Downtown corridor and the Historic Mission Inn Hotel is its cornerstone. However, maintaining an expansive historic building such as the Mission Inn requires a steady stream of capital and more importantly, a love for history and architecture. That is why the City and the Riverside Chamber Foundation are recognizing Duane and Kelly Roberts, the “keepers of the Inn,” as they prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the re-opening of the Mission Inn and the award-winning Festival of Lights.

The Parade and The Inn

The Tournament of Roses Parade was first established in 1890 to promote the city of Pasadena as the “Mediterranean of the West.” At the same time, about 60 miles to the east, Riverside was experiencing a heyday of sorts. The thriving citrus industry of the Inland Empire had made Riverside the wealthiest city per capita in 1895, and the Mission Inn, through the inspiration of Frank Miller, was becoming the magnificent landmark it is today. The last time Riverside had a float in the Rose Parade was in 1957. There are few pictures from years past when Riverside had a float, but the pride in the Mission Inn has been featured before in Pasadena. It was not until the 1950s that Riverside actually participated in the parade by sponsoring a float. One of the entries from that era was a historic car with a “Just Married” sign on it headed to the Mission Inn.

Riverside Rose Parade Float 1951

Image Source: Courtesy of City of Riverside, CA

The Festival of Lights Tradition

While it is hard to imagine a thriving downtown without the Mission Inn, there was a time in our city’s history when the future of the Inn was in jeopardy. The years between 1957 and 1992 were mixed for the Mission Inn. After years of struggling to survive, the Roberts family took over the management of the Mission Inn in December of 1992. That first month, in celebration of the re-opening of the Inn and the Holiday season, the Inn was decorated with festive lights and residents were invited to come enjoy the spectacle. Since that time, Riverside’s Downtown has grown, and the Mission Inn has earned awards for their Festival of Lights, as well as a top Historic Hotel. The Festival of Lights just celebrated the 25th lighting celebration with over 5 million lights, hundreds of animated figures, and an appearance by Kenny Loggins on center stage. The event was attended by over 70,000 people.

Making a Difference

Duane and Kelly Roberts have made a difference in Riverside. This corresponds with this year’s Rose Parade theme, “Making a Difference.” The Riverside float will feature a design that highlights the Spanish Revival architecture of the Mission Inn Hotel. What a great way to honor Duane and Kelly for their significant contribution to Riverside.

Riverside's 2017 Float Design

Image Source: Courtesy of City of Riverside, CA

Hundreds of Riverside residents have signed up to help decorate the float. All the volunteer time slots were filled within a short period of time after the announcement of Riverside’s participation. The city is proud that all of the $350,000 needed to build the float is coming from private, not city, funds. Even though the volunteer opportunities are taken, you can still help make Riverside’s 2018 Rose Parade float a great success. Visit the float’s booth at the Festival of Lights to purchase a flower vial for the float and help fund the effort. The 2017 Festival of Lights runs from Friday, November 24, 2017 to Saturday, January 6, 2018 in Downtown Riverside.


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1 Comment

  1. Dava Behrens
    November 28, 2017

    I was born in Riverside, my mom and dad went to HS there. She told me she once put bubbles in the fountain at the Mission Inn (not a very good idea). The float is beautiful!


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