Barbara Beckley can still remember hearing her number–51–called, when she was chosen to serve as a princess on the court of Pasadena's famed Tournament of Roses Parade in 1967. "It's something that you carry with you all your life," she said, showing the Alhambra Source the memoribilia that she saved from that time.
Since 1890, Pasadena has celebrated New Year's Day with a parade, along with a college football game that helps raise money for the parade. This year, Beckley is celebrating the 50th anniversary of her time on the Rose Parade court.
Beckley is now a travel writer for such publications as the Los Angeles Times and Alaska Airlines' in-flight magazine, but back in 1967, she was a recent graduate of Alhambra High School, and a student at Pasadena City College. The previous rose queen, Dawn Baker, had encouraged her to try out for the court.
The odds were not in Beckley's favor. More than 700 women tried out, with more and more women cut during several rounds. But when Beckley was chosen for the court, it was a foregone conclusion for Beckley's family. "They were excited for me, but they weren't surprised," she said.
The ensuing experiences and publicity were thrilling for Beckley. The court got mid-century style couture clothing from Bullock's and other designers, much of which has come back into fashion. The girls were guests on the Andy Williams Show on the same night that Ella Fitzgerald made an appearance. When Beckley and the 1967 Rose Queen suggested that the court get their own cameras to take pictures of the events, Kodak gave them all Instamatics and continued that tradition in the ensuing years.
Other memories? The parade's grand marshal was the foreign minister of Thailand, and Beckley's boyfriend was jealous of the attention that Barbara got in her position on the court. And the court was on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, above the fold, which would never happen now, Beckley said.
Beckley is still invited and attends Rose Parade events. "It follows you around in a good way," she said. "It helps you with poise and intelligence and meeting people, and it doesn't hurt."