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Rose Parade float builder shuts down, cites economy

October 8, 2011 |  7:00 am

Charisma Floats shuts its business
A longtime float builder is bowing out of the Rose Parade, saying the company has been hit hard by cities and nonprofits that are no longer able to afford the giant displays.

Charisma Floats, a 25-year veteran of the New Year's Day tradition, is shutting down its Irwindale business, said Katie Rodriguez, who owns the company with her husband, Matt.

The couple bought Charisma Floats in 2009 in the midst of the credit crisis. In their early 30s, the new owners struggled to compete against heavyweight float makers such as Phoenix Decorating Co. and Fiesta Parade Floats.

Rodriguez said in an announcement that mounting debt, along with the loss of city and nonprofit floats, which made up the majority of clients, made it impossible to keep the business going.

"While sadly it has come to a premature end, we are grateful to have had this amazing journey," Rodriguez said.

She and her husband had worked in the float industry since they were young. They got engaged at the Rose Parade in 2004 and worked with their team year-round to bring alive elaborate creations using foam, steel and thousands of flowers.

A 2009 float honored the Tuskegee Airmen with an enormous, 17-foot-wide bald eagle and two fighter planes frozen in midair. In 2011, they paid tribute to Sept. 11, featuring 1,800 vials of flowers with the names of the attack victims and a fire hydrant pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez

Photo: Katie Rodriguez works on West Covina's 2009 Rose Parade entry.  Credit: Brian Vander Brug  / Los Angeles Times

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