After 25 years of building floats for the Rose Parade, including last year’s tribute to 9/11, Charisma Floats announced earlier this month they were forced to close their doors after not receiving any business this year —the move leaves just three professional builders for all the floats in the parade.
“Usually we average around three floats a year,” said Katie Rodriguez who co owns the business. “We could have made things work with even one float but not to have any.”
She explained that most of their clients were cities that have had major budget cuts in the last year and not buying floats, “Nonprofits are also having a lot of trouble fundraising,” she added.
“Neither of our clients were able to fundraise enough money to come back this year and we were not able to attract a large corporate client and without any contracts there is nothing we could really do.”
Rodriguez said this year would have been their 25 anniversary.
She said the company also does floral decorations for the Academy Awards. “We are going to try and see if we can put something together so we could bid on that again.” Rodriguez said winning that bid could hold the company together.
She said this year could see a large downscaling in floats across the board.
“Even corporations are a little resistant to spend as much money on their advertising, the trend is to spend money on smaller advertising chunks than on one big one,” she said.
She said past volunteers have banned together helping out on some of the self-built floats such as Burbank and Sierra Madre. “They are calling themselves the Charisma Refugees.”
In a statement Jerry Thompson, sponsor of last year’s 9/11 Tribute Float said, “I along with my wife, Merrie will cherish Charisma’s friendship. I remember meeting Katie and Matt Rodriguez, discussing the tribute float. Going and meeting other float builders, I kept thinking about Charisma and how Katie and Matt made me feel that our float would not be another number, but be a float that would catch the eye of America. Looking back, I made the right choice.”