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Unclassified Info: Facing the elephant in the parade

September 07, 2011

As some of you may know, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gathered last week near City Hall to protest the design of our beloved and sacred Rose Parade float. It seems the group, which has long advocated for the rights of animals, is against our depiction of a circus elephant towing a carriage. Evidently, circuses are mean to animals. Who knew? I always thought they were just places where creepy people hid out from society wearing clown costumes.

In all seriousness, I can certainly see how the design could come off as a bit insensitive. I am well aware that circuses are not noted for their kind and gentle treatment of animals. And the notion of a highly intelligent mammal getting a kick out of being whipped as it unwillingly pulls a large wooden cart doesn’t sound enjoyable, even to a lowly writer like myself.

Frankly, I myself am a little curious as to what the aforementioned pachyderm and wagon have to do with this year’s parade theme “Just Imagine...” But then again, I claim ignorance on missing the symbolism as it applies to the design.

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That said, I think I have found a way to resolve the issue with PETA and give our float some definition and meaning, which will truly define what this year’s parade is all about. My inspiration to help comes from Councilman Frank Quintero who during a meeting on the float issue asked, “Isn’t there some way we can change the theme? Come up with something better?”

Quintero got me thinking, Why not just leave the float design as it is and simply rewrite its definition? All we have to do is alter the press release prior to the start of the parade and, Voila! We’ve got a float that isn’t offensive to animal lovers and can represent our city in a whole new light.

But why stop there? Why have one definition of this elephant when we can have a multitude of rationales? This flower-encrusted beast can stand for a number of things and represent the interests of varying groups within our city.

Let me set the scene…

It’s January 1, 2012. The Rose Parade is under way and the TV cameras are currently focused on the La Cañada float entry — a scintillating interpretation of an amoeba, carefully crafted out of carnations, orchids and russet potatoes. As the float lumbers past the reviewing stands, all eyes turn toward the corner of Colorado and Orange Grove as our float comes into view.

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