FUN FACT: It is estimated that the Pasadena Jaycees have delivered over 500,000 toys over the 80 years that the Jaycees have been roaming the streets of Pasadena on Christmas Eve.
When the group was founded in 1929 few people had any idea of the lofty heights the Pasadena chapter would achieve. A group of young men with more enthusiasm than direction called upon William Dunkerly, the manager of the Chamber of Commerce, and told him of their desire to organize a service group. With assistance from the Los Angeles Jaycees and their immediate past president, Durward Howes, Sr., who was also a Vice President in the United States Jaycees, the chapter was born.
Soon after the chapter was founded, the country found itself in the great depression and there could be no better time for a group like the Jaycees. By 1930, the membership had swelled to 161, with the chapter running projects to raise the spirits of the community. Among the early committees were Aviation, Fire Prevention, Get Out the Vote, Sports, and the Olympic Publicity Committee to name just a few. There were may government involvement projects that reflected the Jaycee philosophy that government should be of laws rather than of men.
1946 saw the birth of the chapter’s most profitable and publicly recognizable project, The Junior Rose Bowl. The event was a major media event featuring a football game, parade and queen. The Junior Rose Bowl had been the chapter’s primary fundraiser for years. In 1966, changes were in the air. That year California Junior College Association decided to institute a playoff system. The Jaycees responded by changing the format of the game. The Jaycees went to the NCAA and got a sanction to allow 4 year colleges to participate in a new game titled the Pasadena bowl. In 1967, the Jaycees contracted with the Missouri Valley and PCAA conferences for teams their conferences to play each other. The game lasted in that format through 1971 when the final Pasadena Bowl Game was played.
In 1949, Bob Hope (pictured above) brought his radio show to Pasadena and began a relationship with the chapter that lasted several years. Mr. Hope was tremendous supporter of the chapter as the Jaycees kept the proceeds from the ticket sales and Bob donated his talent fee to the chapter as well. Other notable speakers and entertainers that were associated with the Jaycees included Richard Nixon, General Omar Bradley, Johnny Carson, Dinah Shore, Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.
In 1972, the Jaycees were first contracted to paint the field at the Rose Bowl for the Rose Bowl game. We have helped out every year since making it our second oldest traditional to Operation Santa.
Originally formed as a men’s club, in 1984 the issue of female membership reached the U.S. Supreme Court with the case Roberts vs. U.S. Jaycees. The U.S. Supreme Court, through a unanimous ruling, ordered that the Jaycees admit women. Approximately 60 women joined the chapter. In 1988, Cathy Stafford was elected the 60th president becoming the first female president of the Great Pasadena Jaycees.
One of the Jaycees most effective community projects, Operation Gobbler began in 1987, to provide Thanksgiving meals for needy families. Each year, dutiful Jaycees stand outside of grocery stores for several weekends leading up to Thanksgiving. Currently the Jaycees work with Friends in Deed, a non-profit organization that supports low-income families, to distribute the food collected by the project.
In 2003, the Chapter was recognized as a “Model of Unity” by the Human Relations Commission for its diversity of service and membership in the community. In 2013, the chapter was awarded the “Special Services to Children Award” by 5 Acres and the prestigious Salvation Army “Others Award” for their work in the community.