Theme and Grand Marshal


“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.” shared Tibbet. “It’s about the human acts of kindness that enrich the lives of others and are the source of inspiration, hope, joy and optimism for all of us.”

A list of past Rose Parade themes can be found in Media Resources.



2017 Grand Marshals

2017 Grand Marshal Janet Evans

Janet Evans is a five-time Olympic medalist who has broken seven world records, she is widely considered to be the greatest female distance swimmer in history. Despite her small size and unorthodox windmill stroke, she was a natural-born swimmer, completing laps by the age of two. In 1987, when she was 15 years old, Janet burst onto the international swimming scene, breaking world records in the 400m, 800m and the 1500m freestyle.

A year later at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Janet won gold medals in all three of her races, overtaking the powerful East German swimmers in the process. In 1992 in Barcelona, Janet defended her gold in the 800 freestyle and added a silver in the 400 freestyle.

At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the highlight came at the Opening Ceremonies, where she passed the Olympic Flame to Muhammad Ali. She retired from competitive swimming at the end of the Atlanta Games.

She was inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004 and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001. In 1989, she was awarded the prestigious Sullivan Award as the United States’ top amateur athlete.

In 2010, Janet mounted a comeback in the sport with the goal of competing at the Olympic Trials in 2012 in the 400 meter and 800-meter freestyle. She successfully qualified for the Trials, and, at the age 40, had the recent honor of trying out for the Olympic Team in both events in July of 2012.

Out of the pool, Janet has made a name for herself as a commercial spokesperson, author, reality television personality, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. Her most recent role as Vice Chairperson and Chair of the LA 2024 Bid Committee’s Athletes' Commission and Director of Athlete Relations, Janet is responsible for promoting the candidacy of the Bid Committee and Los Angeles to host the Games, soliciting athletes’ involvement in the development and promotion of the bid and enhancing the athletes’ experience at the Games. Janet is a vital member of the Bid Committee, helping integrate the athletes’ perspective and personalities into the entire bid process. Janet lives in Southern California with her husband Billy and their two young children, Sydney and Jake.

2017 Grand Marshal Allyson Felix

Born on November 18, 1985, Allyson Felix grew up in Los Angeles, California. Her father, Paul, is an ordained minister who was an excellent sprinter as a teen. She inherited her long legs from her school teacher mother, Marlean. She was nicknamed chicken legs by her high school teammates and those chicken legs would take her to worldwide fame and incredible notoriety.

Allyson followed her older brother, Wes, into the sport, although she did not try out for the track team until her ninth-grade year at Los Angeles Baptist High School in North Hills. At her first practice Coach Jonathon Patton asked her to run 40-meters and thought he must have mis-measured the distance when he saw Allyson’s time. He remeasured and asked her to run again, and she did, but with the same results. Just ten weeks after that tryout, Allyson was racing at the California State Finals. Allyson went on to accomplish impressive feats over her high school career. She broke Marion Jones’ high-school 200-meter record by running 22.51 seconds at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in April of 2003. Just weeks later, Felix turned in an even more impressive performance when she competed in the Banamex Grand Prix in Mexico City’s Olympic Stadium and ran a blazing 22.11 second 200-meter race, which was a new world record in the under-20 category. Felix emerged as the new American Female sprinter to watch and has never looked back winning three Gold Medals in the 2012 London Olympic Games and followed that up in 2016 with two more Gold Medals and another Silver Medal. Allyson is a firm believer in giving back.

She is an athlete ambassador for the worldwide organization “Right to Play” and has visited places like Lebanon, Uganda and Mozambique to spread the “Right to Play” philosophy of the positive impact sport and play can have on a child’s development, confidence and communication skills. Under the tutelage of Coach Bob Kersee, she has won a total of six Olympic Gold Medals and is now the most decorated female track & field Olympian in history.

2017 Grand Marshal Greg Louganis

Greg Louganis is simply the greatest diver in history. You would be hard pressed to find a person who watched either the 1984 or 1988 Olympics who was not enthralled by the poetry that was Greg Louganis coming off the board. The beauty and power of his diving captured the world's attention. 2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of Greg's first Olympic win. Greg won a Silver Medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, in platform diving, at the tender age of 16. Eight years later he became the first male diver to win double Gold in springboard and platform in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and again in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He has won a total of 5 Olympic medals, 5 World Championship titles and 47 national titles — more than any person in U.S. history. His records remain unbroken.

His 1995 autobiography, Breaking the Surface, spent five weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and his PGA and Emmy nominated Documentary Back on Board is receiving rave reviews nationwide and can now be seen on HBO. On April 4, 2016 General Mills announced that Greg would receive a Wheaties Box for his achievements on and off the diving board, and that development was so significant it warranted a New York Times exclusive. In July of 2016, he had the honor of being included in ESPN's prestigious, annual Body Issue. In late September, he will receive the Action Award from Athlete Ally, alongside Kareem Abdul Jabaar, and on October 1st, he will be awarded the prestigious Elizabeth Birch Award in Dallas, Texas. Greg was one of the official commentators for Brazilian broadcaster Globo for the Summer Games this year, and also made appearances in Rio as a guest speaker for companies Cisco and Visa.

The story of Greg’s life, is a story that has inspired millions, and he regularly speaks to the most significant organizations and companies in the world to share that story. Today, as an author, actor, activist and humanitarian, clothing and jewelry designer, he continues his traditional of excellence in every field he touches.

A list of all former Tournament of Roses Grand Marshals can be found in Media Resources.



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