As 2021 comes to a close, many are looking to 2022 for new opportunities. For Paradise Valley business owner Steve Leibsohn, the new year starts with a chance of a lifetime.
Leibsohn, who owns more than 30 Wetzel's Pretzels
locations between Phoenix and Tucson, will be riding in this year's Rose Bowl Parade. He will be one of 15 participants that include fellow franchisees, front-line crew members, office support staff, and management from worldwide.
Leibsohn says he has always dreamed of cruising the streets of Pasadena as part of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The parade has been a New Year's Day tradition since 1890. Leibsohn says he attended his first Rose Bowl at the age of 6.
"It's a huge honor to be invited to such an iconic event," he says. "I've always been so enthusiastic and have such a love for the brand that they invited me to be a participant on the float."
Leibsohn will ride atop of the float named 'California Crusin.' The float was created by Artistic Entertainment Services and features people riding along California's iconic Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66, along with a visit to the beach. The centerpiece features Wetzel's Pretzels founders Bill Phelps and Rick Wetzel riding the custom Cadillac convertible. The float will have surfboards, palm trees, road signs, fresh flowers, and, of course, plenty of pretzels.
Leibsohn plans to dawn the trademark blue and yellow Wetzel's Pretzel jacket for his memorable ride.
"I hope to be dancing for the beach scene," Leibsohn says.
The float's concept, "Dream, Believe, Achieve," comes as a reminder to Leibsohn of the road he has traveled to be where he is today.
"The theme has a powerful connection to my motto, which is, 'Together we can transform small wishes into big dreams,' he says.
Leibsohn, once a philanthropist, joined the Wetzel's Pretzels family as its first franchisee in 1998 when he opened his initial pretzel stand at Scottsdale Fashion Mall. He bought into the concept after trying a pretzel in San Diego.
This year's Tournament of Roses Parade is the first time Wetzel's Pretzels has been part of the New Year's Day festivities, despite the company's corporate headquarters being just down the street in Pasadena.
"From our humble beginnings in Pasadena, California, to a national brand that supports hundreds of entrepreneurs, Wetzel's supports the dream of business ownership for amazing leaders like Steve," said Jennifer Schuler, CEO of Wetzel's Pretzels.
The 2022 Rose Bowl will take place Saturday, January 1, 2022, in Pasadena, California, and will air locally on ABC from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m..