Unclassified Info: Facing the elephant in the parade

As some of you may know, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gathered last week near City Hall to protest the design of our beloved and sacred Rose Parade float. It seems the group, which has long advocated for the rights of animals, is against our depiction of a circus elephant towing a carriage. Evidently, circuses are mean to animals. Who knew? I always thought they were just places where creepy people hid out from society wearing clown costumes.

In all seriousness, I can certainly see how the design could come off as a bit insensitive. I am well aware that circuses are not noted for their kind and gentle treatment of animals. And the notion of a highly intelligent mammal getting a kick out of being whipped as it unwillingly pulls a large wooden cart doesn’t sound enjoyable, even to a lowly writer like myself.

Frankly, I myself am a little curious as to what the aforementioned pachyderm and wagon have to do with this year’s parade theme “Just Imagine...” But then again, I claim ignorance on missing the symbolism as it applies to the design.

That said, I think I have found a way to resolve the issue with PETA and give our float some definition and meaning, which will truly define what this year’s parade is all about. My inspiration to help comes from Councilman Frank Quintero who during a meeting on the float issue asked, “Isn’t there some way we can change the theme? Come up with something better?”

Quintero got me thinking, Why not just leave the float design as it is and simply rewrite its definition? All we have to do is alter the press release prior to the start of the parade and, Voila! We’ve got a float that isn’t offensive to animal lovers and can represent our city in a whole new light.

But why stop there? Why have one definition of this elephant when we can have a multitude of rationales? This flower-encrusted beast can stand for a number of things and represent the interests of varying groups within our city.

Let me set the scene…

It’s January 1, 2012. The Rose Parade is under way and the TV cameras are currently focused on the La Cañada float entry — a scintillating interpretation of an amoeba, carefully crafted out of carnations, orchids and russet potatoes. As the float lumbers past the reviewing stands, all eyes turn toward the corner of Colorado and Orange Grove as our float comes into view.

“And here comes Glendale’s entry and a truly mediocre sight it is,” we hear legendary host Bob Eubanks say. “Let’s go down to my partner Stephanie Edwards, who is street side for a description.”

“Bob, what we have here is not just an unhappy elephant pulling a circus cart. This float, covered in poppy seeds and other floral leftovers was designed to symbolize a number of things you’ll find within the beautiful City of Glendale. Did you know if this were an actual elephant it would weigh as much as the annual total of after shave worn in Glendale?”

“I didn’t know that,” Bob replies.

“And that’s not all. You’ll note the cart has a dented fender, symbolizing the gargantuan chance you have of getting into a car accident if you live in Glendale. The city ranked 191 out of 193 cities for having the worst drivers in the latest “Allstate America's Best Drivers Report.” Only Baltimore and Washington D.C. ranked lower.”

“You get all that from a float design, Stephanie?”

“And then some, Bob. The rocks and weeds the elephant is standing on represent randomly blighted property, which the Glendale Redevelopment Agency is going to turn over to Rick Caruso so he can continue his expansion of the Americana until there is nothing else left in Glendale.”

“Holy cow, Stephanie. It certainly seems like these folks thought long and hard about the meaning of their float design,” Bob says in astonishment.

“They really did. To Democrats living in the Jewel City, the elephant symbolizes an overt, biased endorsement of the Republican Party. But to Republicans it merely represents all the people making more than $1 million annually who should NEVER have to pay taxes again.”

“Before we wrap it up, is there anything else this cumbersome pile of chicken wire and glued flora represents?”

“One last thing, Bob. As many people know, the branding effort for the city completely vaporized last year. Everyone familiar with the city knows a bunch of money was spent on a Tennessee firm for nothing, but no one wants to admit it. So the float accurately represents the proverbial elephant in the room — it’s an over-hyped, ineffective, cost-prohibitive marketing effort, which is on camera for about a minute.”

“So it’s the ultimate symbol of bureaucratic waste,” Bob exclaims.

“Indeed it is. But it’s important to note that it has nothing to do with the mistreatment of animals in the circus.”

GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at gh@garyhuerta.com.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World