Commissioners float 2013 parade concept

After the controversy surrounding Glendale's circus elephant float for the last Tournament of Roses Parade, city commissioners are recommending a design for the next go around that focuses more on industry. 

Earlier this month, the proposed 2013 design was unanimously endorsed by the Parks, Recreation & Community Services Commission, setting the stage for review by the City Council, which put the process of picking a float on a shorter leash after animal rights activists took Glendale to task for its 2012 elephant-themed entry.

This time, the float being sent to the council for review puts a spotlight on the main financial sponsors, the Americana at Brand and Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

The concept also includes allusions to the historic Alex Theatre and Glendale's animation industry.

The float features the Americana's red trolley and images of a doctor and nurse to represent the two companies that put up a total of $60,000 for the $99,000 float. It also includes a film roll and animated searchlights.

“This is one of the best concepts I've seen in a long time,” said Parks Commissioner Stephen Ropfogel.

The circus elephant float sparked a flurry of criticism from animal advocates who rallied against the design, at one point protesting in front of City Hall. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the float glorified a circus industry that is cruel to animals.

At the same time, the Glendale Rose Float Assn., which for decades raised money for the float and selected the design without much city intervention, disbanded after City Council members blamed the organization's choice for igniting controversy and said they could have done a better job raising money.

Association members said they were treated as scapegoats.

Glendale nearly exited the Rose Parade altogether after the City Council, facing a deep budget gap, threatened to pull the plug unless the public stepped up to fund the majority of the costs associated with the program.

Business leaders, including Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso, came to the rescue, sparking an avalanche of donations. About $8,000 in donations were leftover after the city paid for the nearly $90,000 float. The extra money is being used to cover part of the 2013 float.

The City Council has already agreed to front $100,000 for the float with a plan to backfill the spending with money from corporate sponsors.

Community Services & Parks Director Jess Duran said the city is working on getting a third sponsor who could be incorporated into the design to cover the remaining $31,000.

“We're still hopeful,” he said, adding that the sponsor must commit in a few weeks or the city may have to request donations from the community once again.

Sponsors and city officials selected the proposed design out of about 30 options.

“This said ‘Glendale' to all of us,” Mari Abrams, Glendale Adventist Medical Center spokeswoman, said at the June 18 commission meeting.

Parks Commissioner Dorothy Sharkey said she was also happy with what she called a beautiful design.

“I know this means a lot to so many people,” she said.

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