Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

1-9 Whimsical Float Theme Wins

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Humor carried the day again for New Mexico in the 2009 Rose Parade. Our float, depicting Wile E. Coyote rocketing down Route 66 after New Mexico's state bird was selected by judges for the Bob Hope Humor Award.
It's the second year in a row that a whimsical theme has won an award for New Mexico. Traditionalists were mortified last year when the state Tourism Department selected a topic promoting New Mexico's Spaceport America, with an assist by three little green men from Roswell.
Judges selected it for the Grand Marshal's Award, one of the three top prizes. It was awarded for excellence in creative concept and design. That's pretty good, considering we were in competition with much larger and more elaborate floats.
This year's award was for being the most comical and amusing in the parade. Volunteers, who traveled to Pasadena at their own expense to decorate New Mexico's float, report that spirits were high during the five days of work. Not only was the theme a lot of fun, they said, but everyone seemed sure the float would win a prize.
So what's the big deal with winning a prize in the Rose Parade? It's just a group of judges who liked it. But if they liked it, the million people who watched the parade in person probably did also and some will decide that New Mexico looks like a fun place to visit.
Or their children will think it's a fun place. Our children seemed to plan most of our vacations. And since L.A. children live next door to Disneyland, they might want to visit some place different.
We've learned, however, that one problem is the kids of today don't know about Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons, or Bugs Bunny or any of the other wonderful characters with whom their parents and grandparents grew up.
Our solution has been to buy our grandchildren DVDs of the old cartoons so we can sit and watch them together. It's a good experience and it slows them down for about 30 minutes.
Besides the million people along the parade route, an estimated 40 million more Americans watch on television, plus no telling how many on networks in the 150 foreign countries where it is shown.
State Tourism Secretary Mike Cerletti claims New Mexico gets an estimated $1 million in exposure for only about $200,000, some of which is paid by sponsors from New Mexico.
This year's sponsors were the Albuquerque and Santa Fe convention and visitors bureaus, the towns of Taos and Red River, Isleta Casino and Resort, Santa Fe Brewing Company, Vivac Winery, El Pinto Restaurant, ESPN and the New Mexico state parks.
Numerous events are scheduled in Southern California for sponsors to attend during the week of parade activities. All of the events are designed for sponsors to interact with travel writers and potential clients.
Prize winning floats raise the spirits of volunteer workers who come in from all over the state. If you've ever worked on a float, you know that you build up a feeling that it had better win. It also helps get volunteers back again the next year.
Will there be another New Mexico float again next year? Cerletti thinks it is the biggest bang we get for our advertising buck. Until earlier this week, it appeared that Cerletti might not be back next year.
Tourism is a part of the Department of Commerce, so there was a chance he would go to Washington. And there was a chance Cerletti might not be held over by a Denish administration.
But with the possibility of a little more stability in our state government, the same people may be making the same decisions next year.
Can New Mexico come up with a third great idea in a row for next year? Yes. Raul Rodriguez and Tim Estes of Fiesta Floats International are the creative geniuses who are sure to be back with us again..
FRI, 1-09-09

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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