Float design wins city approval

Sneak Preview’ will pay tribute to the Alex Theatre as it parades through Pasadena on Jan. 1.

By Jason Wells

Published: Last Updated Tuesday, May 6, 2008 10:27 PM PDT
CITY HALL — Glendale’s entry for the 2009 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade received a strong endorsement Tuesday from the City Council, which voted unanimously to approve a design that pays a strong tribute to the historic Alex Theatre. 

Go build it,” Councilman Bob Yousefian told the float organizers.
The float design has sailed through the city review process with rave reviews, garnering unanimous support from the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission on April 2.

Before approving the design, the Glendale Rose Float Assn. presented the City Council with a $45,000 check to cover half the cost of last year’s award-winning entry, “Bon Voyage.”

C.L. Keedy III, president of the Executive Committee of the Tournament of Roses Assn., also officially presented the council with the Mayor’s Trophy for the “most outstanding city entry” in the 2008 parade.

The entry, which featured a suspended 1930s-era biplane taking off from the city’s historic Grand Central Air Terminal, was the latest in a string of major awards for Glendale’s participation in the event that receives worldwide media attention.

Glendale’s 2009 entry will be its 95th, making the city the second-longest-standing participant in the parade’s history, said George Chapjian, director of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.

The parade theme for 2009 is “Hats Off to Entertainment,” a theme that finally allowed the rose float committee to incorporate the Alex Theatre, a Glendale landmark, into its float design, said Bill Lofthouse, president of Phoenix Decorating Co., a float decoration and design firm the city has used for years.

While the “Sneak Preview” float is expected to cost $94,000 this year — a slight increase to cover the cost of a mechanical hinge to bend the theater spire for safe travel — the investment has not gone unnoticed, contributing to the high-quality designs that over the years have earned the city 50 major awards, city officials said.

And without the financial investment from cities like Glendale, Keedy said, “the Rose Parade would not be the worldwide event that it is today.”

Work on the 2009 float’s steel frame began soon after the sound endorsement from the parks commission, and eventually will be ready for the volunteer flower “planting” that every year draws dozens of community members.

Volunteer decorators last year logged 3,294 hours gluing the flowers to the float in painstaking detail, said Sean Bersell, vice president of the rose float association.

“So it’s a major undertaking,” he told the council.

The next Rose Parade takes place in Pasadena on Jan. 1.


To be called “Sneak Preview,” the 35-foot-long float will feature a scene set in the glamour era of 1930s and ’40s Hollywood and the movie premieres that took place at the iconic theater on Brand Boulevard.

A white, stretch convertible limousine is parked in front of the Alex — complete with its 22-foot-high spire — with skylights and plenty of flowers.

Alex Theatre-released classics like “National Velvet,” starring Elizabeth Taylor, and “Going My Way,” with Bing Crosby, will be featured on the marquee.