Rose float support wilts

CITY HALL — The public appears unwilling to maintain Glendale’s float as the second longest running entrant in the annual Tournament of Roses parade, having donated just $596 toward a $50,000-fundraising goal set by city officials.

If the goal isn’t reached by the end of this month — the deadline for signing a $99,000-float construction contract — Glendale likely will be forced to withdrawal after 97 years of participation in a parade watched by millions around the world.

Facing a projected budget deficit of $18 million, the City Council voted to scrap its subsidy of at least $80,000 for the float unless the community pitched in $50,000. Glendale’s annual Rose Parade float costs roughly $130,000.

“I wish people in the city would consider real quickly if they would like to help preserve the history of the float — 97 years,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, a longtime float advocate and chairman of last year's decorating committee. “I hope that they will send in a contribution very soon. Time is running out.”

Glendale is among several cities across the region, from West Covina to Alhambra, that have struggled to fund their own Rose Parade floats amid deep budget cuts.

Other Southland cities with stronger fundraising operations, such as Burbank and La Cañada Flintridge, remain on track to enter their floats, with construction already under way.

Typically, the Glendale Rose Float Assn. is asked to raise $50,000 to offset the city subsidy, but the volunteer organization has in recent years struggled to attract major donors.

City Council members opted to delay the funding decision in the wake of community concern and media attention surrounding the float’s potential demise to see how much could be raised through donations. City officials created an account to which the public can contribute tax-deductible donations.

As of this week, city officials reported just eight donations totaling $596, and most City Council members have indicated they are unwilling to fill the gap with city money.

“I think it’s a luxury that the city was able to afford for so many years,” Councilman Ara Narjarian said. “At a time when we’re cutting libraries, where we’re cutting recreational programs for children, meals for seniors, road repair, police, fire — we just can’t afford to subsidize it the way we had in the past.”

Glendale Rose Float Assn. President Garry Ackerman said it was unfair for the city to expect volunteers to foot the bill for the city’s float.

“We do what we can to offset the costs,” he said. “The rose float association was formed to help offset the costs, and it looks like the city wants us to virtually pay for the float. But it’s a city float.”

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