The city of Glendale will enter the Tournament of Roses Parade this year for the 99th time, but this year’s float is almost the float that wasn’t.
Glendale was faced with tough financial choices earlier this year and decided a luxury like a parade float just wasn’t going to fly. The city told residents that if they wanted to continue their annual participation, they would have to pay.
Hefty corporations and private donations kept the float dream alive.
But now the design is causing an uproar.
The float features a circus elephant pulling a calliope.The design was the idea on which everyone agreed -- everyone except the animal rights group, PETA.
PETA protested and objected at city council meetings that this was promoting circus cruelty to elephants.
"They do a good job, they do a great job. But I think, they're just taking it over the top," said Garry Ackerman, president of the Glendale Rose Float Association.
Glendale was blindsided by the criticism, and they took a step back to evaluate.
"I think for us it was a surprise to see the plight of animals, tied in with this float," said Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman.
"But they have their point," she said. "At this point, the float is being constructed, there's no time, there's no money to start over again. So I think that PETA has done their job in terms of getting out and educating people about their issue, but it's not going to affect the future of our float,"
Friedman added that the criticism is even more of a surprise considering Glendale passed an ordinance banning the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.
"That's the irony," said Friedman. "People who came to council to speak last night acknowledged this, that the city of Glendale has just banned the sale of cats and dogs from puppy mills, and it was a really big step, and it's something that not a lot of cities have done and we did it because we are concerned with animal welfare."
So, the long tradition for Glendale continues with some unexpected bumps in the road. Ackerman says PETA need not to worry, the elephant will get the royal treatment.
"It's not an abusive elephant, we're not beating it up, it's not a real elephant, we're putting it on a motorized platform, we're giving him a tour of Pasadena, and we may even bring him back to Glendale if he wants to see Glendale." said Ackerman.