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Longtime Glendale Rose Parade float-makers quit

January 24, 2012 |  8:22 am

Glendale float
After getting battered by animal activists and knocked by the City Council for not raising enough money to pay for this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade float, the Glendale Rose Float Assn. is calling it quits.

After 33 years, the group has decided to disband after being caught in the middle of a major brouhaha over Glendale’s 2012 elephant-themed float, association President Garry Ackerman announced Monday.

“We’re just disillusioned,” he said.

The council stripped the group of its creative influence in November after animal activists flooded the city with letters criticizing Glendale’s circus elephant float. They likened the design to a symbol of animal cruelty.

Association members continue to defend the float as a good fit for the parade theme of “Just Imagine.”

That blow came after the organization struggled to raise enough money to help pay for the nearly $90,000 float. A victim of budget cuts, the city was going to kill the annual float subsidy unless the community raised enough money to save it.

Business leaders, including Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso, came to the rescue, sparking an avalanche of donations. After all the changes made in the wake of the controversy at City Hall, all the Rose float association can do now is raise funds, but members say they can’t raise as much money as the city is asking for — roughly half the float cost.

“The City Council wants to pick the float, they want to name the float, they want to choose the riders. There’s nothing for us to do,” Ackerman said. “They want us to do the fund-raising, but they took all the fun out of it.”

In the past, the City Council rubber-stamped the group’s decisions about float design and riders. Ackerman said the group had auctioned off spots on the float in the past to raise money, but that tool is out if they can’t choose who gets to wave to the crowd on New Year’s Day.

The membership was also upset when they were told not to throw a reception because of the elephant debate, but then Councilman Dave Weaver, who has long organized float decoration volunteers, threw one of his own, Ackerman said.

“It was like they were laughing in our faces,” Ackerman said.

When asked how he felt about the group disbanding, Weaver declined to discuss the matter, saying only that it was “up to them.”

The protracted recession hit donations, Ackerman said. The association held wine tastings and golf tournaments, but the group was hamstrung by its lack of nonprofit status — a key to soliciting tax-deductible donations.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian had offered to help them file their tax paperwork, but Ackerman said it was too late.

“This year, we were treated as outsiders with no respect for our past efforts,” he said.

Manoukian said their decision was unfortunate.

“They’ve done a considerable amount of work as it relates to the rose float,” he said. “I wish that they would continue working with the city and volunteer their time.”


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-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Photo: Alma Santiago of Hollywood takes a picture of the Glendale float Jan. 4. Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News.