New Mexico’s 2009 Rose Parade entry will be as much fun as this year’s float was and maybe a little less controversial than the space aliens that inhabited the 2008 prize winner.
The idea of depicting our state as spacey didn’t appeal to some New Mexicans or to the tourism heads of our larger cities. But the alien float attracted much attention in Southern California, along with the Grand Marshal’s Award, one of the top three most prestigious.
The main characters on New Mexico’s 2009 float will be Wile E. Coyote and the elusive roadrunner. To me, the terrain Wile E. chases the roadrunner through looks more like northern Arizona and southern Utah, but hey, the roadrunner is New Mexico’s state bird.
It also doesn’t hurt that Chuck Jones, the creator of coyote-roadrunner cartoons, happened to really like New Mexico and opened a gallery in Santa Fe. The Jones family and Warner Brothers gave permission for use of the characters on the float.
So once again New Mexico has a theme that should grab the attention of the 40 million Americans who watch the parade live. The Rose Parade is televised on nine national and international networks in 150 countries worldwide.
The primary audience that interests state Tourism Secretary Michael Cerletti, however, is in Southern California, where prospective tourists are plentiful but advertising is prohibitively expensive. California consistently ranks first or second in the number of domestic visitors to New Mexico annually.
The cost to New Mexico taxpayers of putting a float in the Rose Parade is somewhere around $170,000, far less than an ad in a major magazine. Another $50,000 or so is provided by sponsors who want to get their names before the large audience.
Sponsors participate in the state’s promotional activities in the Los Angeles area during the week before the parade. They get to be at all the promotional events, have their name in every promotional publication, access to all media functions and other events connected with the parade plus, depending on the level of sponsorship, tickets to the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game.
This year, new Deputy Tourism Secretary Jen Hoffman is in charge of sponsors. Anyone interested can contact her at 505-827-6674 or email her at Jennifer.email@example.com.
Volunteers also are needed to decorate on the float. That job begins the day after Christmas and continues until New Years Eve, capped by a volunteer party that night for everyone putting in at least two eight-hour shifts of work on the float.
Besides returning veterans who have worked on the previous two floats, many newcomers will join in this year’s decorating. If you are interested in being a part of the effort and are willing to pay your own way, as all the volunteers do, contact Bobbi Baca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not everyone is happy with the float theme, of course. Traditionalists want to see adobe chapels, red chile and senoritas, similar to our first float, which won nothing.
Some Nortenos are upset because there aren’t many coyotes or roadrunners in that part of the state. But there will be tall pines in the background. In the Acme rocket Wile E. is riding tree huggers sense toxic waste and shades of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
But you can’t please everyone. Whimsical floats, such as New Mexico’s, appear to win more than their share of prizes and, therefore, receive more publicity. And they are the ones viewers remember. So why not be remembered for something fun?
Last year, there were calls to scrap the alien theme and return to something more traditional. Although some on the state Tourism Board became a little queasy about the aliens, they couldn’t have changed the theme anyway.
Rose Parade floats are a year-round business. Soon after each parade the concepts for the following year go on the drawing board and the building of superstructures begins. At that point, it’s too late to change.
Jay Miller is a syndicated columnist in Santa Fe. He may be reached by e-mail to email@example.com.