Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Home of Clarence W. Bowen on South Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena

The aftermath of the 1926 Black Rose Parade

There were two tragedies on the morning of this parade and one of them was connected to the neighborhood Normandie Heights. Clarence Bowen, prominent Pasadena real estate developer and developer of Normandie Heights, did not attend the 1926 parade, but his wife did, standing on a roof of a two story commercial building along the parade route on Colorado Boulevard. For some unexplained reason, Mrs. Bowen fell from the roof, the impact killing her and a parade spectator below. It's possible Mrs. Bowen committed suicide, inadvertently taking another life with her. Mr. Bowen married his second wife a few months later.

For the history of Normandie Heights and Mr. Bowen see the first post on this site.

Here from the Pasadena Star News history feature, published 12/11/2005 11:07 PM,

Tragedy at 1926 parade

Collapse of grandstand resulted in 8 fatalities

Sid Gally Correspondent

Pasadena Star-News PASADENA -

The grandstand at the southeast corner of Colorado and Madison collapsed at 11 a.m. in the morning on Jan. 1, 1926, while the Rose Parade was under way. Eight people were reportedly killed or died later of injuries and scores were injured. A revolution in the way grandstands were designed, built and inspected ensued. Architect Bill Ellinger made available a scrapbook of clippings from the Pasadena Morning Sun that tell the tale of the disaster. Eyewitnesses reported the grandstand dropped slightly and the front end moved rapidly forward several feet. The Sun reported: "This was followed instantly by the total collapse of supporting beams and braces and the stand crashed to the ground, a tangled mass of men, women and children, broken timbers and bright colored decorations. "As the second drop occurred, women screamed, men shouted in alarm and the shrill, terrified cries of children filled the air above the sound of the crash." Investigations started rapidly. Qualified engineers made studies. City officials blamed each other. The Tournament of Roses denied any responsibility. The grandstand was built with used lumber, with as few as one nail at some connections. Nails were not driven in fully so their heads would be exposed for easy removal. Bracing was not adequate. The chief building inspector of the city was a plumbing inspector who admitted that the department was actually managed by a clerk, Miss Doris Strawn.