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For many people, watching the annual Rose Parade — either on TV or in person — is a New Year’s Day tradition. The parade has been held nearly every year since 1891. But it won’t be happening in 2021, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced organizers to cancel the event for only the fourth time in its history. That means there will be no Rose Parade TV broadcast. Instead, a television special will replace the usual live parade broadcast. 

The 2021 Rose Parade is canceled 

Rose Parade float
The 2019 Rose Parade | Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images

Usually, the streets of Pasadena, Calif., are jammed on Jan. 1 as dozens of flower-decorated floats make their way through town. Equestrians and marching bands also participate in the parade, which is hosted by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. But the pandemic means that the event can’t safely be held in 2021. Organizers announced in July 2020 that the parade would be canceled, something that hasn’t happened since 1945. The parade has only been canceled three times in its more than 100-year history. In addition to 1945, the parade was not held in 1942 and 1943. 

“In addition to the advance planning required by our band and equestrian units, the construction of our floats takes many months and typically requires thousands of volunteers to gather in ways that aren’t in compliance with safety recommendations and won’t be safe in the coming months,” David Eads, the Tournament of Roses executive director and CEO, said in a statement announcing the cancellation. 

What’s on TV instead of the Rose Parade 

Rose Parade marching band
The 2020 Rose Parade | Li Ying /Xinhua via Getty

The cancellation of the 2021 event doesn’t mean the Rose Parade will be completely absent from TV on New Year’s Day. Instead of a live parade, The Rose Parade’s New Year Celebration Presented By Honda will air at 8 a.m. PT on ABC, NBC, Hallmark Channel, RFD-TV, and local station KTLA. It will air at 7 a.m. PT on Univision. 

In another big change for 2021, the College Football Playoff Semifinal, which was scheduled to be played at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, will now be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game — which will see Alabama face off against Notre Dame — will be broadcast on ESPN on Jan. 1. 

Rose Parade 2021 celebrity appearances 

Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow | John Lamparski/Getty Images

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The Rose Parade’s New Year Celebration will feature musical and marching band performances, segments about the parade and its history, spectacular floats from past years, and celebrity guest appearances. Viewers will also get a behind-the-scenes look at how the elaborate floats are made. 

Musical performers include Sheryl Crow, Mickey Guyton, Tori Kelly, Lady A, Rascal Flatts, and The War and Treaty. Celebrity guests include Shameless star Shanola Hampton, Olympian Laurie Hernandez, former NFL player Matt Leinart, and EGOT winner Rita Moreno. Daddy Yankee, Vin Scully, and Dascha Polanco will also participate, as will past Grand Marshals Gary Sinise and Emeril Lagasse, with the latter showing off his favorite New Year’s Day cocktail.

Kermit the Frog will also act as the celebrity conductor for a virtual performance of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” by high and college marching bands from around the U.S. and the world.  

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