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Glendale balks at Rose float price, using city money

New Year's Day

When Councilman Dave Weaver, who has for decades captained the decoration of Glendale's Tournament of Roses Parade entry, asked his colleagues this week to set aside money from the city's reserves to pay for next year's float, silence followed.

None on the dais wanted to earmark city money to pay for a float.

It's not the first time the city, which has been slowly climbing out of a financial hole after years of double-digit deficits, has cut back spending on a float for the New Year's Day parade in Pasadena. But the city has traditionally paid for at least a portion of the price tag with public funds.

Corporate sponsors and donors saved the 2012 float when they covered half of the roughly $100,000 cost, but that was after last-minute donations came in when officials threatened to scrap the float altogether.

Caruso Affiliated, which owns the Americana at Brand, and Glendale Adventist Medical Center put up most of the money needed for the 2013 float, which also cost $100,000. That year, the float advertised the sponsors by featuring the mall's trolley and hospital workers.

For the 2014 float, Glendale's 100th entry into the parade, donors covered just $15,000 of the $155,000 cost. It featured an animatronic likeness of "Meatball," the famed Glendale bear that was moved to a wildlife sanctuary after he visited foothill neighborhoods in search of food.

Council members Frank Quintero and Laura Friedman said that this year, rather than using city money to pay for the float, they wanted to review creating a special nonprofit arm of the city to fundraise for it.

The council agreed on Tuesday to develop a presentation on how to set up such an organization at a future City Council meeting.

Before 2012, the Glendale Rose Float Assn., a now defunct nonprofit, handled fundraising and float-design selection. But the group struggled to raise funds that year — pointing to the protracted recession as the culprit — and their choice of a circus elephant-themed float drew the ire of animal activists.

As a result, the council took control over design selection and the organization was disbanded.

At the time, city officials sought other established nonprofit groups to fundraise for the float, but none wanted the job.

Weaver took a pessimistic view when his colleagues refused to put up city money for the float this week.

"Well folks, that's the end of the Glendale Rose float for over 100 years," he said. "That's too bad."

brittany.levine@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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