As Glendale prepares to design its 100th float for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, it could, for the first time, feature pyrotechnics or water features.
But advanced design elements come at higher cost, and after years of scrimping on float costs due to tight city budgets, the City Council approved spending $155,000 on what Community Services & Parks Director Jess Duran called a “historic monument.”
“It would be great to win another award and it would be very fitting to win an award on our 100th year,” Duran said at a City Hall meeting this week.
The city plans to rely on corporate sponsors and community donations to cover the majority of the costs. Donations saved Glendale's 2012 float, which was at risk of being scrapped altogether before corporate sponsors came to the rescue and paid for about half of the $100,000 cost.
While the 2013 float, which won the Governor's Award for best depiction of life in California, was designed around elements that symbolized the corporate sponsors, City Councilman Dave Weaver said he wanted to open up the design selection committee to arts experts.
“There are ways to give them something without giving the whole float to sponsors,” Weaver said.
The 2013 float featured the Americana at Brand trolley and images of Glendale Adventist Medical Center, two of the top sponsors. The float also featured the historic Alex Theatre.
Weaver, who has directed the float's construction for years, said he would like to see the city return to general themes rather than trying to represent Glendale. In the past, the city had floats featuring butterflies, dragons, children's tales and even international cities such as Venice.
“None of those represented Glendale per se,” he said.
“My own personal view is that you want the most beautiful float that can represent the city; it does not have to be something in the city. We're running out of things in the city. We've done the Alex, we've done the airport. We haven't done Forest Lawn yet, but I don't know how we would concoct that one.”
In addition to corporate sponsors, city officials plan to collect donations from the public.
For $25, donors will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win two tickets to sit on the float. The rest of the 10 to 12 seats are to be divided among the sponsors, Duran said.
If the city can't raise the money, it will be stuck footing the bill, City Manager Scott Ochoa said.
But despite belt-tightening at City Hall, Ochoa said he could scrape together enough money to cover a shortfall.
The money could come from salary savings, he said, in the wake of cutting about 120 positions.
Phoenix Decorating Company is slated to complete the float's conceptual design by this spring, according to a city report.