Float design process scrutinized

Unhappy with a circus elephant-themed float already being built for Glendale’s entry in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, several City Council members this week said they wanted to change the way future designs are picked and funded.

The Glendale Rose Float Assn., the longtime organizer of the city’s float design and construction, has come under greater scrutiny this year for its inability to adequately raise money to supplement building costs. And its most recent design picks have failed to garner much public enthusiasm.

After several local businesses, including Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso, stepped in to save the float’s funding, the City Council expressed frustration that it was stuck with the elephant design, which was drafted for the parade’s “Just Imagine” theme.

Phoenix Decorating Consulting Inc., the Pasadena firm tasked with building and designing the circus elephant style float, has already started construction on the project.

Council members said they’ve been receiving emails from across the country complaining about the circus elephant design, as the animals often are mistreated. This is the third time Glendale has had an elephant as part of its float, said Councilman Dave Weaver, a longtime float construction volunteer.

Glendale Rose Float Assn. President Garry Ackerman defended the float design Tuesday.

“It’s not a real elephant,” he said. “People worried about animal rights should know that.”

He also told the council that his group still wanted a role in future float design selection and fundraising.

Ackerman handed over a $3,125 check on behalf of the group to help pay for construction. But some council members said they felt the last-minute gesture was too little, too late.

“Are they our fair-weather friends now?” Councilman Ara Najarian asked.

In a report, city officials suggested the council replace the group with another nonprofit organization. Since the Glendale Rose Float Assn. is not incorporated, it can’t give a tax deduction to donors, which may be affecting fundraising, according to the officials.

Councilmen Rafi Manoukian, an accountant, and Najarian, an attorney, said they’d be willing to help the association apply for nonprofit status. Ackerman said the group has tried in the past, but was unsuccessful. It’s been operating since 1976 without nonprofit status, he said.

Some council members suggested the Parks & Open Space Foundation take the fundraising reins for the float, with the parks department coordinating design selection. The council also asked officials to come up with more ideas about the future role of the association.

“I think we’re lucky we’re going to have a float this year,” said Councilman Frank Quintero. “I think we need to put something in motion now to keep this enterprise going.”


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