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PARTY MAY BE COMING TO AN END FOR GLENDALE'S BOOZY BASSET HOUND.

Byline: Lee Condon Daily News Staff Writer

Image-conscious Glendale may give the star of its proposed Rose Parade float a Hollywood style makeover.

Glendale's float entry is a boozy basset hound in a New Year's hat with a noisemaker hanging from his mouth. But the ``party animal,'' as he is known, has been the subject of vicious character attacks within the last week, with some suggesting he's just a hung-over drunk not fit to represent respectable Glendale in a parade seen around the world.

But with no time to find a more dignified star, locals on Tuesday appeared resigned to reinvent the hound's image instead. The proposals range from simply dropping the ``party animal'' name to more radical changes.

``Maybe we could put a kitten in front of the dog,'' suggested City Councilman Sheldon Baker, who also wants to add a rainbow coalition of local children to the float to promote cultural harmony. ``Then the theme of the float becomes a vision for the next century, people living in harmony with each other,'' he said. ``We could have kids on the float from all different heritages and ethnicities,'' Baker said.

The mayor favors a simple name change, agreeing that the ``party animal'' moniker sends the wrong message about Glendale. Other council members don't want to mess with the float association's pick.

While the dog has been widely smeared, it does have its fans. The presiding judge of the local court, who happens to own a basset hound, supports the dog. The Basset Hound Club of Southern California has even offered to help with fund-raising efforts for the float.

``We have a picnic in August and about 200 basset hounds come,'' said Maria Bivens, a member of the dog club. ``We have a costume contest, a howling contest and a napping contest. Glendale could put up a booth and ask for donations.''

Deadline approaching

D-Day for the dog will come Tuesday when the Glendale City Council takes up the issue. The city is providing $60,000 of the $90,000 it will take the float association to get the float built. That means there is just a week of lobbying time left to influence the dog's fate.

The dog theme was selected as the city's float by the board of directors of the Glendale Rose Float Association in a 12-3 vote. But the board's president, Marilyne Wiechmann, is leading a minority opposition movement against the ``party animal,'' saying it presents an image of Glendale residents as drunks and partyers.

Wiechmann and her followers were able to convince the city's Parks and Recreation Commission last week to vote against recommending the design to the Glendale City Council. The council will be the ultimate arbiters of the dog's fate, because the design is to go to the Tournament of Roses officials on May 1, just four days after the council meeting.

Baker thinks the dog is ``awful cute.'' But instead of just being a drunkard in a party hat, Baker has suggested adding the cat and children co-stars and making the theme a little more politically correct. Rather than being the Spuds McKenzie of Glendale, the basset hound would be a symbol of a community living together in peace for the new millennium.

The Baker plan has been embraced by Wiechmann. On Monday night, Wiechmann held an informal community meeting at Shakey's Pizza Restaurant. More than 50 people attended, 34 who support the dog and 22 opposed. However there was a general consensus that the float's name should be changed, said Gary Ackerman, vice president of the group.

`Vision of the Future'

Bill Lofthouse, president of Phoenix Decorating, said adding a cat to the float is possible, but it may not fit in the way some people imagine it would. He suggested Baker's idea of putting children on the float would be a way to follow the ``Visions of the Future'' theme.

While Wiechmann said no one came up with alternative names at the Shakey's meeting, Lofthouse suggested ``It's My Party,'' ``Where's the Party,'' and ``Let's Celebrate.''

Wiechmann says the party animal name does not fit in with the theme of the 2000 Tournament of Roses Parade, which is ``Celebration 2000, Visions of the Future.'' While she had hoped to gather ideas to completely redesign the float at the Shakey's meeting, Wiechmann admitted that it's no longer practical to junk the dog because the city has to present its final design to the Tournament of Roses by May 1.

At this point she is pushing to drop the ``party animal'' name and make alterations that would fit the ``Visions of the Future'' theme.

Judge partial to hound

Among those at the community meeting was James Simpson, presiding judge of the Glendale Municipal Court. But anyone who was hoping for Simpson to be an impartial mediator in the dispute may have been disappointed. He showed up with ``Deputy Waldo,'' his 3-1/2-year-old basset hound, the eighth dog of the breed that he has owned since 1956. Well known at the Municipal Court building, Deputy Waldo is Simpson's constant companion and spends much time in his master's chambers.

Even Wiechmann, the most strident ``party animal'' opponent, admits she was quite taken with Simpson's basset hound.

``I happen to like basset hounds,'' Simpson said. However, he denied that appearing with his dog was part of a lobbying effort for the party animal. He said he has no strong opinion about whether the name should be changed or whether a cat and kids should be added. But he would like to see the basset hound stay as the star.

``I think the controversy is hysterical,'' Simpson said. ``It's a fun float and people like it and that's what counts.''

Change the name

Glendale Mayor Ginger Bremberg said the best solution is to change the name because there is no time to change the design. Councilman David Weaver, who is also on the float committee, initially opposed the name change but now thinks it might be a good compromise.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian could not be reached for comment and Councilman Gus Gomez said he will support the original design because it was picked by a 12-3 majority of the float committee.

Meanwhile, Lofthouse is eagerly awaiting any changes he may have to make before the deadline.

``I don't think people are laughing with them. I think people are laughing at them,'' he said.

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PHOTO The proposed ``Party Animal'' design of Glendale's planned entry in the Rose Parade is being opposed by some critics.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 21, 1999
Words:1088
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