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Thorny Competition

January 18, 1987|Jon Brain

The flowers from the Rose Parade floats have hardly wilted and bidding is being prepared by five float makers for next year's 60 or so sponsors, particularly big spenders like Kodak and Arco--who'll be announced by month's end.

"We would build the whole parade if we had the opportunity," said Bill Lofthouse of C.E. Bent and Son, with 24 entries in this year's extravaganza.

With some floats costing as much as $200,000, sponsors scrutinize such factors as awards--which translate to more media exposure--and embarrassing mechanical breakdowns.

"Trophies mean a great deal," said Everett Fisch of Float Masters, which had four floats this year, including the Queen's Trophy winner. "You need to spend at least $100,000 to build a float eligible to win something, and then you're at the whim of the judges.

Extra pressure: wide variations in flower prices and the insistence of some sponsors on a performance clause--if the float fails to work properly, the sponsor gets some money back.

"It only takes one thing to go wrong and your profit margins are gone." Fisch had only one float in '86--and "almost lost my shirt."

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