Verdugo Views: Dog float caused a lot of barking

One of the most controversial floats ever entered in Pasadena's Tournament of Roses parade was a flower-covered, party-hat-wearing basset hound labeled, ‘‘Havin' Fun Yet?"

And it came from Glendale.

It all began in the early months of 1999 when Phoenix Decorating, of Pasadena (which designed many of Glendale's floats) presented several choices to the Rose Float Assn.

One was of a dog, a basset hound, with a sad look. He wore a party hat and carried a noisemaker in his mouth. The music playing on the float was to be “It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To” and the float was to carry the name, ‘‘Party Animal." Phoenix designer Bill Lofthouse noted that the dog had definite potential as a prizewinner.

The association initially chose the dog design, but then several members decided it didn't present the right image for the city. Some felt that “Party Animal” gave the idea that residents were “a bunch of drunks and did not fit the parade theme of “Celebration 2000: Visions of the Future,” wrote the Los Angeles Daily News on May 11.

The Parks, Recreation & Community Services Commission ultimately agreed and rejected the design, sending the issue to the Glendale City Council.

Within weeks, a battle was waging. The press continued to cover the debate, with the Daily News asking if the council would transform the dog into a symbol of peace and harmony for a new millennium.

“All of Glendale is holding its breath,” said city spokesman Ritch Wells, who, along with other staff members, had been getting calls from the public about new names such as “Glendale is a Doggone Great City,” or “Universal Peace & Harmony,” “Let's Celebrate" and “Where's the Party?" On April 27, Mayor Ginger Bremberg was quoted in the Daily News as saying, “I wish people would get this interested in budgets for libraries."

At the end of April, as a parade deadline loomed, the council took on the matter. A packed house listened as they decided to go with the dog, but change the name. They directed the association to meet and pick a new name.

Nello Iacono, then director of the city's parks department, led the association in their discussion. “We're not going to leave here until we're done with this," Iacono declared at the start of the meeting, per the Daily News, May 11.

The name “Just Waggin' Along,” won the first round, but then members decided it didn't fit with the parade theme and feared that judges would find it dull. Finally they settled on ‘Havin' Fun Yet?"

Then it was back to Phoenix Decorating to build the float. But the controversial float continued to make news. In October, Lofthouse told the Glendale News-Press that the float had generated stories across the country.

On New Year's Day, the 23-foot-tall basset hound, wearing a year 2000 party hat, received a prime slot near the beginning of the parade (16th of the 55 floats) thus garnering national exposure for Glendale by appearing early in the parade, before the networks cut to football bowl telecasts.

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