By Ted AYALA
The controversy that has broiled over in the wake of the Glendale Rose Float Association’s design choice for the city’s 2012 float spilled over into the Council’s Tuesday meeting.
At the center of the storm is the city‘s float – a smiling cartoon elephant. Critics argue that the float promotes circuses and animal abuse. Others, like Chris Lofthouse from Phoenix Design Company, see it differently.
“It’s just an art form,” he said exasperatedly as he stood on the council dais. “It’s not a real elephant. It’s just a parade float.”
Lofthouse explained to the City Council how off-guard he was caught by the fiasco over the float.
“I’ve had my shop inundated with news crews over [this issue],” he said. “It’s an unfair spin [the float’s critics] have put here. This float was based on creativity and color – but never with an intent to promote cruelty to animals.”
Council has faced mounting pressure to amend the design of the float or at least change the float’s name, which is currently named Steppin’ Out In Style.
Jess Duran, director of Community Services and Parks, informed the city that the choice in design resulted from having very little time to vet design options. “Because of our strict time frame from the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, we didn’t have too many choices,” he noted.
Lofthouse told the council that changing the float design is easier said than done. “There’s a lot more that goes into these floats than the public understands. Many man hours have gone into the float,” he said.
Later, demonstrating a photograph of the float to the council, Lofthouse added, “It’s probably the happiest elephant you’ve ever seen in a parade.” He added, “I’m sure Walt Disney didn’t make the movie Dumbo thinking that he would be picketed by people saying he was cruel to animals.”
Sharon Weisman of North Glendale, however, said that the float’s design indeed presents a problem.
“Despite the best intentions, there is no doubt that [the design] has negative connotations,” she said. “I think an explanation on the city’s website explaining that they don’t condone the abuse of elephants would be a great idea. I think it’s foolish for the city to put itself in the middle of the controversy due to this float design.”
While Councilman Frank Quintero was strongly opposed to the design, his fellow councilmen Ara Najarian and Rafi Manoukian seem bemused by the fracas. Still, they did agree to go along with the council should it seek to rename the float.
Any changes to the float name must be prepared and submitted before the end of October.
Council agreed to rename the float pending public opinion.