As her reign as the First Lady of the Tournament of Roses came to an end, Ann Matthiessen returned to the job she loves, teaching at Carver Elementary School with priceless memories.
“I’m very happy to be back at work,” she said last week. “I’m very thankful to the school district. I applied for a leave of absence and I took about five months off total last year so that I could travel.”
Matthiessen’s husband, Mike, was the president of the 2016 Tournament of Roses, and the couple had a whirlwind year touring the country and the world, making public relations appearances and auditioning marching bands for the Jan. 1 event.
“We spent most of last year traveling,” Ann Matthiessen said. “I knew that would be a big commitment for me. I thought, ‘How was I going to keep the job that I loved and do this traveling with him?’”
She said the bulk of the traveling was visiting all of the bands that came to the Tournament of Roses Parade.
“The bands apply and are picked about 15 to 16 months ahead of time because they need to fundraise,” Ann Matthiessen said. “Part of the duties of the president and the first lady, or the first spouse, because sometimes it’s a woman president, is to travel to meet all the bands. We presented their Tournament of Roses flag and welcomed them to the parade. We also helped with any fundraising that they were doing with media exposure. Mike was on all kinds of T.V. shows and radio shows, and in the newspaper so their community knew what they were doing and they should be supported.”
Mike Matthiessen even made an appearance on a Guatemalan morning television show. In addition to Guatemala, the two other foreign countries the Matthiessens visited during their reign were Mexico and Japan. They also made stops in numerous United States cities such as New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Tulsa, Dallas and Portland.
The couple, who lives in San Gabriel, made 21 trips over the last year.
“Probably the highlight was the people who we met,” Ann Matthiessen said. “Everyone was so welcoming. They were so proud of their bands.”
She said the band parents and band directors were amazing and very hardworking.
Ann Matthiessen said the experience was “quite exciting and quite exhausting.”
“I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity,” she said. “I wasn’t one who traveled a lot as a child. I got to go to places that I thought I’d never go.”
Mike Matthiessen’s presidential term officially ended on Thursday, Jan. 21 when La Cañada resident Brad Ratliff was installed as the 2016-17 Tournament of Roses president.
Mike Matthiessen has volunteered for the Tournament of Roses for 37 years and was elected to the Executive Committee eight years ago. He’ll spend one more year on the Executive Committee as past president.
Ann Matthiessen returned from her leave of absence on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
“I did come in to do some of the parent meetings and assessments, but I did have a long term sub,” she said. “I didn’t think it was fair to come in and out because the students needed consistency.”
Ann Matthiessen has worked at Carver Elementary since 1996, beginning as an assistant and is now a special education teacher.
Mike Matthiessen was able to remotely perform his general manager duties for a Pasadena company called Space Bank Limited.