Unclassified Info: It's difficult to imagine the point

Since my criticism of our Rose Parade float concept was fodder for this column on several occasions last year, I thought it only fair to get myself out of bed at 3:00 a.m. so I could get out onto Orange Grove Boulevard for a firsthand, close-up look at Glendale’s 2012 parade entry. To rant further with only the perspective of TV coverage didn’t feel right. So off I went with my daughter Zoe along as witness and because I knew she’d get a kick out of seeing what man can accomplish with millions of dollars in flowers, a few tubs of white glue and some chicken wire.

Before I get to our float, it might be good to take a look at some of the floats presented by other small cities surrounding Pasadena. I won’t compare our effort to those behemoths like Dole, Honda or Paramount Studios. Corporate America has unlimited resources and deep pockets to dazzle the eye while we cities are a little more modest with the budget, thank goodness.

South Pasadena won the Fantasy Award with a float showing aliens turning the misfortune of crashing their flying saucer into a positive by making lemonade out of the lemons. Evidently, their interpretation of the parade theme, “Just Imagine” is to ask parade goers to envision a universe where intelligent life finds the best in any situation. Nicely done.

La Cañada Flintridge won the Bob Hope Award for humor with its depiction of three pigs flying — a most whimsical notion of what would happen if pork could take control of a biplane.

And Burbank won the Mayor’s Trophy for the most outstanding city entry with a float entitled “The Dream Machine.” Their take on the parade theme was to imagine what it would be like if a machine could actually make dreams come true.

As Zoe and I began our survey of floats, I was initially pleased to see Glendale had at least been positioned much closer to the front of the parade. Last year, we were unceremoniously sent to the end of the line, which is never a good place to be when you are classifying your float as an economic development tool, which some within the city have previously claimed.

We gazed up at the elephant and cart, recognizing the volunteers’ efforts and hard work that went into covering every square inch with organic material.

“The wheels have kidney beans on them,” Zoe noticed.

“And if there were an award for best use of legumes, I’m sure we’d take the prize,” I replied.

Solid volunteer effort aside, I couldn’t help but remain a tad underwhelmed and mystified as to how our float concept tied into the overall parade theme. , I didn’t get it when the concept was announced, and looking up at the pachyderm frozen in time, my opinion was unaltered. We spent the next 90 minutes reviewing the rest of the floats before heading back home to the warmth of our beds and the multi-angled coverage only TV can provide.

A few minutes into the parade came Glendale’s 55 seconds of precious TV time — at least that’s what I timed it as on KTLA’s broadcast. Much to my surprise, the name of the float had been changed from “Stepping out in style” to “Just imagine the fun, music and freedom!”

“Oh, no we didn’t!” I shouted at the screen.

After all the hullabaloo and protests from PETA about animal mistreatment in circuses as represented by our float, we went and added the word “Freedom” to the title? Are you kidding me? Now we’re taunting our protesters to look at the float and think of freedom when they see an intelligent mammal pulling a cart down the road? Awesome!

Incredible insensitivity aside, why didn’t we at least try to shamelessly shoehorn our newly misguided brand into the renaming of the float? After all, we paid almost $150,000 for that gem of a catch phrase. With the whole world watching our cartoon-like float lumber down the road for less than a minute, this would have been an excellent moment to start spreading the word about how “Glendale is animated!”

What are we waiting for, a bigger audience? Maybe we need to spend thousands more on another out-of-state consulting firm to tell us when a good public relations opportunity presents itself. Evidently, we can’t see it, even when it’s as obvious as the proverbial elephant in the room.

Personally, I can’t wait to see how we top this one next year. Happy New Year, Glendale!

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