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Olympian, WWII hero Louis Zamperini is 2015 Rose Parade Grand Marshal

Tournament Pres. Rich Chinen applauds for 2015 Rose Parade Grand Marshal Louis Zamperini as son Luke Zamperini looks on.
Tournament Pres. Rich Chinen applauds for 2015 Rose Parade Grand Marshal Louis Zamperini as son Luke Zamperini looks on.
Laura Berthold Monteros

Tournament of Roses President Rich Chinen announced Friday morning at Tournament House that Olympian and World War II hero and POW Louis Zamperini will be the Grand Marshal of the 126th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2015. At age 97, Zamperini is still hale and hardy, and ready to toss the coin at the Rose Bowl Game.

The announcement of the Grand Marshal is one of the most anticipated events of the year in Pasadena. As usual, there plenty of hints around the grounds to keep the media guessing as to who the honoree would be.

A band clad in black pants and shirts and bright ties played Italian-American pop music—“That’s Amore,” “O Sole Mio,” "Arrivederci Roma”—and the coffee buffet had plates of Italian cookies. Another hint was the buff carpet lined with white lanes a la a track. A trophy rack with five Olympic torches and USC TROJANS emblazoned across the bottom was another clue. Bouquets of anthuriums recalled his plane crash in the Pacific during the war.

Zamperini has plenty of time to get used to the idea of representing Pasadena to the world. The Grand Marshal is often not announced until the fall, though Dame Jane Goodall, GM of the 2013 parade, was introduced in late April, 2012. The main duties of the GM are to participate in the Rose Parade, grant pre-parade interviews, and toss the coin at the Rose Bowl Game.

A slideshow of the announcement festivities will be posted in this column later today.