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Ron Kaye: Trying to extend a 5-second spotlight

December 02, 2012

If you ever tried to spot the Glendale Rose Parade float on television on New Year’s Day, you know you had to stay glued to your set and never blink — you only get a passing glance.

So what do you think would happen if you put the highest-paid reality TV star, fashion maven, socialite and sex symbol that is Kim Kardashian atop the 2013 float as Glendale’s celebrity queen for a day?

Know this: She has more than 16.7 million followers on Twitter, ranking her 10th behind the likes of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna and President Obama. A Google search shows she is the butt of 891,000 pages of “Kim Kardashian jokes,” while her declaration last spring that she wanted to run for mayor of Glendale produced 495,000 results.

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And there were 6,490 entries in the first 48 hours after Councilman Ara Najarian announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that he’d love to invite Kardashian to ride on Glendale’s Rose Parade float on New Year’s Day.

“One or two words from Ms. Kardashian are worth hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars. She certainly would get us more than five seconds,” Najarian told his colleagues.

Say it ain’t so, Ara. This is staid old Glendale where tradition rules and has ruled with regards to the Rose Parade float for the past 98 years, due in part to the likes of longtime Councilman Dave Weaver — protector of the float tradition as an important community event, not fodder for the tabloids and “Entertainment Tonight.”

The suggestion to make the parade more fun and generate publicity for the city has set off a firestorm of criticism, with dozens of comments on the Glendale News-Press website, some calling Najarian stoned out of his mind, deserving of a black eye and worse. Even some Armenians suggested Kardashian was a terrible role model for children and tarnishes the city’s image when there are so many high-minded citizens worthy of honor.

Najarian was still having a laugh when I caught up with him after he floated his idea, talking like a guy who may have stepped into a Rose Parade controversy but who felt he would come out smelling like roses.

“What the heck, this is New Year’s. People have to have fun,” he said. “There’s too much tension. This should be a fun thing. We should be laughing, making jokes — not making it into such a gloom-and-doom situation. Everybody just needs to lighten up.

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