The Man Behind the Roses

A Pasadena florist who supplied the Rose Court with their flowers has passed away, leaving a void many think can never be filled

You may never have seen Jacob Maarse while enjoying the Tournament of Roses Parade, or the events surrounding it, but for the last 30 years or so, he was always there.

He was responsible for arrangements like the deep red bouquets, clutched by the excited Rose Queen and her court, or the elaborate displays adorning the Pasadena Mansion.

Even the flowers near the parade announcers were done with exquisite care by Maarse and his staff.

As official florist of the parade, Maarse's job was to make everything outside of the floats themselves look amazing.

A tall order, if you consider the parade's strong tradition of floral decoration.

"He came into a room, the room lit up because of his presence, and he will certainly be missed," according to Bill Flinn, Tournament Association C.O.O.

At Maarse's florist shop his office sits empty.

Workers were told the bad news Wednesday morning. Maarse died in the hospital after a short illness, just a couple of weeks before the big day.

Maarse's son Hank says his dad wanted to be a part of the Rose Parade from the moment he set eyes on it.

More than three decades ago, a Dutch immigrant came with a pocketful of dreams, and a talent for flowers. The combination was irresistible.

"In Holland they do small, very small parades, and when he came here, I think he was just in awe of the magnitude and the size of it," according to Hank Maarse, son of Jacob Maarse.

"That was probably the success of his business, was that his business had his personality in it," according to Bill Flinn, Tournament Association C.O.O.

Ironically, workers have barely had time to mourn their loss.

With orders being taken almost around the clock, a memorial will have to wait until after the season. After the grand parade is decked out with all those holiday garnishes and garlands.

People who knew Jacob Maarse say he probably wouldn't want it any other way.

Contact Us