As in years past, after the parade was over the float was put on display with all the others in Pasadena for a few days then brought back to Burbank for the rest of the week. After that everything was stripped from the chassis and the process began to select a design for the following year. Would we possibly have another winner for three years in a row?
The answer is no. To be frank, the 2015 float had been less than fun for us. One of the board members - lets call her "Loser" - had been an increasingly annoying pain in the ass for several years. She had been a semi-finalist in some of the past competitions that we had won and was very vocal about losing. It got to the point where she was telling other members that the only way we could have won so often was if we had bribed people to select us. If you remember the description of the selection process from a few pages back, this would mean we had to bribe the board of directors, which she sat on, then bribe enough of the 100+ members voting on the final design. As much as I enjoyed having floats in the parade my budget doesn't allow for large scale bribe attempts.
Some of the members told me about this and I confronted Loser, who claimed she was only joking. Well, that "joking" got to be real nasty. When Carol had been in charge of the decoration efforts for "Oktoberfest" Loser would wait until Carol took a dinner break then go out on the floor and issue contradicting instructions to the workers, which created all sorts of needless delays and tension. There were many other examples of Loser trying desperately to be in the spotlight. When the judges came by to examine the float she would butt her way into the conversation. That's a big "no no" but no one on the board wanted to deal with Loser as she was so confrontational. Loser pushed her way into the dance team for "Oktoberfest" and made a big stink to be sure she would be dancing on the camera side of the float. The list of stunts she pulled was like something out of a bad movie. We tried our best to ignore Loser but she was always there with a snide remark or comment. She was rapidly draining the joy out of what should be a fun experience.
When the semifinalists for 2016 were announced one of our designs was in there, as well as one of Loser's. Well, as luck had it the final two to vote on were ours and hers. By now people had pretty much figured out one was ours based on Stacia's style of drawing, and Loser really stepped up her efforts to keep us from winning. She ran around the room promising people plum assignments if they voted for her, even though lobbying for votes is strictly against the rules, and again stated we were bribing others to win. With her on the board, a lot of people didn't know what to think, and some decided not to vote at all. She actually came up to me and asked if we would drop out of the competition as "it wasn't fair that we kept winning." When the final vote came in she won, which was fine, but she started running around the room screaming "I did it! I did it! I finally beat the Cotters!" with her fist pumping in the air. It was pitiful to watch.
I later met with the board and while they apologized for her actions and her campaign against us, enough was enough. Carol, Stacia, and I all decided it simply wasn't worth it to be around that sort of negative energy. I walked out of the board meeting and have not been back. When I recently (2020) got a letter asking if we would like to rejoin the association it went straight into the recycling bin. Life is too short to spend time anywhere near people like Loser. There were some really great people we do miss but it was a choice we had to make.
So that's the end of our float work for Burbank. We left on a high note with the best scoring float they had had in decades, and 4 floats in 10 years, so we felt good about what we had accomplished. As it turned out, Carol and I were both asked to serve as VIP tour guides for Phoenix Decorating, one of the two big companies that builds floats for the parade, and have been doing that happily since we parted ways with Burbank. If you're ever in the Los Angeles area between Christmas and New Years and would like to see floats being decorated drop me a line.
Click here to see our other Rose Parade floats!