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Rose float group struggling

President of Glendale association says 2011 parade is a go, but the future is in doubt.

November 22, 2010|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

The effort to launch Glendale's float for the 2011 Rose Parade is well underway, but organizers say support has ebbed, putting the city's participation at risk.

Glendale had a float in Pasadena's first Rose Parade in 1911, and has had one in every parade thereafter. And as in years past, after Thanksgiving, an army of volunteers will spend weekends decorating the float.

The theme this year is "Say Cheese," with the float featuring a mouse riding atop an old-fashioned bellows camera, and riders occupying picture frames placed around the float.

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The 2011 float cost $99,000, with the city paying half the cost and the Glendale Rose Float Assn. the rest. Garry E. Ackerman, president of the association, said the group has the money for this year's parade but is concerned about the future.

"Everybody loves the float, and we'd like to continue it," Ackerman said. "But we need more support from the community, both in business support and membership."

Ackerman said the organization is looking for companies with a large presence in Glendale to help keep the effort alive.

"If we can get those kinds of donations, that would help a lot," he said.

This year's float has room for 10 riders, with several spots still available.

"Anyone who would like to buy a seat on the float, we are taking bids at $1,000," Ackerman said.

City Councilman Dave Weaver, chairman of the decorating committee, said the float is a major boon for the city, as millions of viewers from more than 200 countries tune in to watch parade coverage on television.

"The amount of exposure time for the city compares to a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl," Weaver said. "That's worth millions of dollars, and we get it for peanuts."

Weaver organized a "Dreaming of Roses" fundraiser for several years, with local restaurants providing food and businesses donating auction items for evening galas. But the bottom dropped out when the recession hit.

"When the economy goes south, it is difficult to go to restaurants and ask them to feed hundreds of people for free," he said. "They just can't; they are struggling."

Despite the difficulties, Ackerman said working on the float is a task he treasures.

"What is important to me is that people from 13 to who knows how old are all working in harmony, all walks of life, all religions and all nationalities," Ackerman said. "Nobody is fighting, and everyone is doing something beautiful."

This year's effort is being documented by a Glendale government access television crew, which is putting together a film on the city's 100 years of Rose Parade history.

City spokeswoman Vicki Gardner said crews have assembled "grainy footage of Glendale's earliest float" as well as photos of entries from throughout the years. The film should be ready to air in the spring, she said.

For more information on the Glendale float, visit http://www.glendalerosefloat.org.

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