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City settles on Rose float name

Officials avoid political messages, PETA says it will continue to protest.

October 09, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

“Wishing for my Natural Life” and “Step Away from Animal Abuse” — these were just some of the stronger animal rights-tinged suggestions submitted for renaming Glendale’s controversial elephant-themed Tournament of Roses Parade float.

After months of controversy that included protests by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals over Glendale’s float design, which features an elephant pulling a carriage, the City Council agreed to solicit the public for names that might highlight a more benign interpretation.

Animal rights activists argued that the original name, “Stepping out in Style,” glamorized the abuse of circus elephants. In August, the City Council approved a float featuring a circus elephant wearing colorful anklets, a collar and trunk decorations towing a carriage.

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Of the 25 submissions, city officials selected “Just Imagine the Music, Fun and Freedom,” rejecting the more activist labels, such as “Celebrate Humanity with an Elephant-Free Circus,” or PETA’s suggestion, “Dreaming for Freedom and Justice for All.”

Tournament of Roses officials, who tend to deny names with political slants, must approve of the change. All floats and their names must also fit the parade theme, “Just Imagine.”

Glendale expects a thumbs up or down by the end of the week.

PETA spokesman David Perle said the group wasn’t happy with the new name because it “conjures up a false and misleading image that is exactly the opposite of what elephants in the circus have to endure.”

“PETA and our many Glendale members will continue to protest this float and the abuse of elephants in circuses that it glorifies right through parade day,” Perle said.

About six people attended PETA’s protest last month, carrying signs that said, “Sink the Circus Float,” and “Circuses Are No Fun for Animals.”

Glendale resident Sharon Weisman, whose early criticism first sparked the float controversy, said although she doesn’t see the float’s connection to freedom, she thinks the new name is better than the old one.

“I hope it lessens the controversy,” she said.

By the time criticism of the design peaked, city leaders said there was no turning back, as the float had already been constructed after being OK’d by a committee and community group.

Chris Lofthouse, president of Phoenix Decorating Company, the Pasadena firm that has built Glendale’s Tournament of Roses float for nearly two decades, has said he never intended to condone animal abuse. Rather, he said, he intended to build something that represents happy childhood memories of the circus.

The float cost about $100,000 and was covered by donations from the community and business owners.

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