Rose float funds roll in

GLENDALE — Just a week after Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso issued a $25,000 challenge grant to save Glendale’s float entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade, the money has poured in, apparently saving a 97-year-old program from being axed.

Major donations from the business community — including $25,000 from local businessman Sam Solakyan — and $3,000 from the Glendale Firefighters Assn. put the fundraising total well above the $50,000 benchmark needed to save the float.

“I think it’s a source of civic pride,” said Chris Stavros, president of the firefighters union.

Three donations came in for the Rose float during the Glendale City Council meeting Tuesday.

A $25,000 was given by two companies that provide taxi and Super Shuttle service in Glendale.

“It's a tradition. We don't want to see it end,” said Rozan Mardosian, a representative for Tri-City Systems Inc. And G & S Transit Management/DBA City Cab. “We want to be there for the city when they need us.”

A $5,000 donation was given by the Glendale Management Assn., which represents the 300 managers in the city of Glendale.

Gary Ackerman, president of the Glendale Rose Float Assn., and 10 board members attended the meeting and told council they will donate about $2,700.

“I am very happy the community is now starting to come out,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, a longtime proponent for saving the float.

Now, with the funding it needed to move forward in hand, the City Council must still approve the float project to kick start construction, which could begin immediately, said Chris Lofthouse, president of Phoenix Decorating, the firm that has built the city’s float for 25 years.

The delay in securing funding for the float, he added, will not hinder its construction and competition.

“We were ready to roll,” he said. “We were just waiting for the word.”

Caruso’s donation came as a challenge to the community to raise the additional $25,000 needed to keep the float program alive. Until his cash infusion, it appeared that Glendale’s participation — the second-longest-running in the Rose Parade — would meet its end in the face of citywide budget cuts, with officials reporting just $596 in individual donations prior to Caruso’s challenge grant.

The City Council had warned that without the public chipping in $50,000, it would likely cut the city’s $80,000-subsidy, effectively ending the program.

Now, the recent deluge of financial help may mean that the city’s subsidy will be far less than it typically has been, officials said.

The float-saving donation came from recently transplanted Glendale residents Solakyan and his wife, Suzanna.

“If I could help, I would love to,” he said. “I just wanted to see it back.”

The couple recently moved their home and Sam Solakyan’s business, Global Holdings Inc., from Calabasas to Glendale.

The city’s long-standing history of participation in the Rose Parade inspired the couple to keep that tradition alive, if not for the public, then for his own growing family, Sam Solakyan said.

His wife is pregnant with twin boys, who are due in October.

Seeing the city’s float could be important source of pride during the economic slump.

“I just want everybody to come out and have a good time,” Solakyan said.

Mark Kellam contributed to this story.

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