Some people might see the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day as so 20th century — early 20th century — but not Dave Weaver.
The longtime Glendale city councilman has volunteered for 18 years to work long hours with hundreds of others to help keep the city’s 98-year Rose Parade tradition alive.
That was no easy task this year, with the city struggling financially and finding public contributions to the cost of the float amounting to less than $600 of the $50,000 needed. Then, an email popped up in Weaver’s inbox from a guy he didn’t know named Sam Solakyan offering to cover the full amount.
“I nearly fell out of my chair,” Weaver recalled. “It was unreal.”
Hours later, Caruso Affiliated executive and past president of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Rick Lemmo told the City Council that billionaire developer Rick Caruso was putting up a $25,000 challenge grant to save the Rose Parade Float.
Sam Solakyan isn’t in Caruso’s league financially — yet. But give him time. He’s only 30, an entrepreneurial wizard who has put together Global Holdings Inc., which owns and operates 14 companies mainly in the medical technology field, including a leading edge radiology firm.
Not bad for a guy whose family emigrated from Armenia when he was 6, grew up in North Hollywood, went to L.A. Valley College and got his degree from the University of Phoenix.
When he was 14, he started his first business with help from his father, a musician who played the accordion and rented a booth for him next to a pager shop where he repaired computers. He then took a flame retardant developed by his high school chemistry class and commercialized it, counting the MGM Casino in Las Vegas as a client.
In 2002, at the age of 21, he started Global Holdings by launching a health-care consulting and marketing business. Last year, he moved his company’s offices to Glendale and found the commute from Calabasas “pure torture.”
So he and his wife Susanna, who is expecting twins soon, decided to move to Glendale, where she had spent part of her childhood.
“I knew about Little Armenia, but I never appreciated just how the community was so family-oriented, the kind of community where we wanted to raise our family,” he said.
When Solakyan read in the newspaper about how the Rose Parade float was in jeopardy, he didn’t hesitate for a second.
“I know lots of people are going through a lot these days, and it’s hard for them to give, but we were in a good place and wanted to help.”
There also was the childhood memory of going to his first Rose Parade when he was 12.
“It was just thousands of smiles,” he recalled. “My eyes lit up. It was so amazing to be surrounded by people who are happy, like being at Disneyland. I wanted my kids to have that someday. I wanted to give something back to the community.”
The Rose Parade, community, family-oriented, giving back — aren’t they all passé at a time when an ideological madman in a peace-loving country like Norway guns down dozens of children, when our own Congress pushes us to the brink of economic calamity in pursuit of ideological advantage?
Maybe ideologies are passé. Maybe we’re pursuing the wrong goals and have lost our way, losing sight of the simple things that really matter.
Weaver put it this way: “I’m not good at raising money, but I don’t mind giving myself. It brings me happiness.”
Happiness — what an idea!
RON KAYE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your thoughts and stories with him.