On New Year’s Day, 37 million people tuned in to watch the annual Rose Parade. However, what they didn’t see were the months of dedication and preparation that the 900+ “White Suiters,” or volunteers, of the Tournament of Roses gave in producing the beloved New Year’s Tradition.
Of the team of devoted volunteers was Greg Custer, local Newport Beach resident and Executive Vice President at Whittier Trust in Newport Beach. Custer put on his first White Suit over 21 years ago, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Tournament of Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game since 1998. As a White Suiter, he has ensured the success of the Rose Parade through his time on 10 operating committees including University Entertainment (working with the teams on Improv & Lawry’s), Sports Media (working with the sports writers), Post Parade (closing the city streets to display the floats for the public) and TV Radio (working with the TV broadcasters). Most recently, Custer served as Chair of the Float Construction Committee.
Over this past year, Custer and his team of 29, including committee members, mechanics and engineers ensured the construction and safety of 44 floats. Beginning in May, each float underwent a series of 3 inspections including road tests, checking the stability of the frame and making sure the animation on each float was working correctly. Ultimately, the months of behind-the-scenes work by the Float Construction Committee ensured a successful parade with floats that were mechanically, physically and technically sound to withstand the parade’s five mile route.
In addition to overseeing the construction of the floats, Custer plays a role in promoting the event. Honda, as the presenting sponsor, lends out 100 vehicles each year for tournament volunteers to drive in the months prior to the Parade. In his 21 years with the Tournament of Roses, some of Custer’s favorite memories lie in the stories he has heard while driving the official Rose Parade Honda Vehicle. Whether it’s their experience growing up watching the parade, sharing what team they’re rooting for in the game or asking about becoming a volunteer, each encounter brings a new connection, and further incentive to sustain the iconic tradition that is the Rose Parade.
Given the compelling history and tradition of the Rose Parade, it comes to no surprise that such a dedicated band of volunteers like Greg Custer have devoted years of their life to continuing it. Not a surprise there is sort of a crossover between Custer’s professional work and life-long hobby as a White Suiter. Similar to his dedication to the Tournament of Roses, Custer has been with Whittier Trust for over 20 years. Like driving the Tournament Honda and hearing people’s stories, Custer understands that meaningful experiences stretch far beyond the tangible. At Whittier, wealth is about what’s truly important and lasting, paying attention to both the tangible and intangible aspects. His firm understands that building a lasting legacy is the most significant way to leave your mark, similar to what the Tournament of Roses has been doing for the past 131 years.