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A Naturalist and Civic Leader

  • Charles Frederick Holder (1851–1915)

Charles Frederick Holder (1851–1915) and the Tournament of Roses (1890–present), a naturalist and civic leader.

“In New York, people are buried in snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear,” declared Charles Frederick Holder before a meeting of the membership of the elite Valley Hunt Club in Pasadena in 1889. He then proposed, “Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.” The club’s membership agreed, and on New Year’s Day, 1890, the first Tournament of Roses festival was held.

Holder was typical of Valley Hunt Club members. He was well-to-do and a well-educated migrant from the East. He was also keenly interested in nature and was the author of several books on fishing and a biography of Charles Darwin. Largely because of his interest in the natural environment, he left Lynn, Mass., in 1885 and moved to California. In addition to starting the Tournament of Roses, he collected West Coast flora and fauna, which he sent to the Natural History Museum in New York. He also explored Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles, spend