Doo Dah Parade Becomes a Serious Business


In his office on the third floor of the YWCA in Pasadena, Peter Apanel is talking business.

Profit margins. Corporate sponsorship. Advertising revenue. These are concepts to which the Apanel of 13 years ago, when he started the Doo Dah Parade, paid scant attention.

But now, the self-proclaimed czar of the annual spoof of the Tournament of Roses is bowing to economic pressure. Disappointed after a lower-than-expected turnout at last November's event and weary of eking out a living on slim parade profits, Apanel has made a couple of business decisions.

He's signed a three-year exclusive contract with KCOP Channel 13 to televise Doo Dah, a deal Apanel says will bring him $10,000 this November and $2,500 more the two subsequent years.

He also has found a corporate sponsor for the parade, which runs the Sunday after Thanksgiving. GTE California Inc. will pay for the $175-a-page cost of printing the Doo Dah program in exchange for advertising space and exposure of the company logo. Twenty percent of the ad revenue will go to a local nonprofit arts organization.

This all may seem out of character for Doo Dah, which since its 1978 birth has been everything that the multimillion-dollar New Year's Day extravaganza isn't: eccentric, ridiculous, racy, anti-Establishment.

Will going electronic and enlisting corporate sponsorship spoil Doo Dah's offbeat character? "Everybody's going to think I totally sold out," the 39-year-old Apanel conceded, "but I can't do this for nothing anymore."

Apanel estimates that Doo Dah parade-goers pour $100,000 into city businesses each year, assuming there are about 50,000 spectators who spend about $2 each. Gail Thompson, executive director of the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau, said her organization doesn't keep track of Doo Dah Parade-generated business, and Apanel's figures are probably conservative.

But Apanel must pay the city for law enforcement, health department inspections, cleanup, and portable toilets. Last year's bill came to $11,747, said Cissy Schreiner, a senior accountant in Pasadena's Finance Department.

Apanel said he ended up netting $12,000 from the $10 each participant pays and sales of T-shirts and other items.

In a sense, Doo Dah itself has become an establishment, inspiring people from New Jersey, Florida, Texas, and Pismo Beach to start their own spoof parades.

"Before, people didn't like the Doo Dah Parade. Now, they love it," said Tom Behrens, a drummer for Snotty Scotty and the Hankies, a local band that has appeared in all 13 Pasadena Doo Dahs. "The Doo Dah will grow up and be like the Rose Parade, get established. A whole Tournament of Doo Dah, you know? Then we can do a spoof on that."

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