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Tournament Volunteers “Suit Up” for Duty

December 23, 2015 | Rose Bowl 2017

White SuitsA “White Suiter” is a member of the Tournament of Roses Association. This volunteer group of 935 people donates approximately 80,000 hours each year to plan, coordinate and execute both the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl.

The Tournament of Roses President Mike Matthiessen says, “Our organization is fueled and fed by people just like you. We’re your Little League coaches, your PTA members, your scout leaders. We are your neighbors.” The average White Suiter can expect to volunteer about 40 hours per year.

“What makes our organization very special is that people are engaged all year long. We plan the event and then we work the event,” Matthiessen says. Many people don’t understand that the overall Tournament of Roses experience consists of several smaller events as well as the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl. The White Suiters also help plan and run things like Bandfest, Equestfest, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction and more.

Putting on That White Suit

“Putting on the white suit for the first time, I suppose all I could think about was, wow, I’m still cold,” jokes Matthiessen.

The trademark duds were first donned out of a sense of necessity. The volunteers working the Rose Parade needed to literally stand out in a crowd. Matthiessen says long ago someone suggested wearing a white suit “because no one in their right mind would wear it on January 1st anywhere.”

Joking aside, Matthiessen admits the moment he first put on his white suit 37 years ago, something clicked. “Why wouldn’t there be a huge sense of pride? There’s also a sense of saying, ‘I’m a proud member, and I take my responsibility seriously.’ And yeah, it’s still cold.”

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