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This story has been updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 9:22 a.m.
Does Parade Idea Float?

New Mexico Will Launch Cosmic Theme With Rose Float

By Jeff Jones and Charles D. Brunt
Journal Staff Writers
    New Mexico is going spacey with its float for the next Tournament of Roses Parade.
    The 2008 float will feature a Jetsons-like spaceport, three big-eyed space aliens made from split peas, and 50,000 green roses.

[+] Click for whole image
Courtesy N.M. Tourism Dept.

The state Tourism Dept. unveiled an artist rendering of its entry in the 2008 Tournament of Roses Parade in Calif.

POLL: What do you think of the N.M. float for the 2008 Tournament of Roses Parade?
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        The state Tourism Department unveiled the design of its second-ever entry into the New Year's parade in Pasadena, Calif., on Wednesday. The theme draws heavily on a planned commercial spaceport in Sierra County and the Roswell UFO legend of 1947.
        The massive float, called "Passport to Our World & Beyond," will cost a bunch of green: State Tourism Secretary Michael Cerletti said the total price tag will run an estimated $175,000 to $200,000, with about $100,000 of that expected to come from his agency after sponsors— some public, some private— pitch in.
        But Cerletti said the cost is far outweighed by the publicity and tourism dollars the nationally televised event can generate for New Mexico.
        "If we run a one-time, four-color ad, let's say in a major magazine, that can cost anywhere from $55,000 to $90,000," Cerletti said.
        The float with its spacecraft, planets, clouds and trio of wayward extraterrestrials is a way of "advertising the state in a nontraditional way," Cerletti said.
        The department's news release reads like a cheery-voiced TV announcer describing the New Mexico float as it rolls down Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard the morning of the Jan. 1 event.
        "The space creatures on the float, created in crushed split peas, fly through clouds of crisp white coconut as they maneuver around colorful planets of hot pink, orange and purple roses and carnations. ... The spaceport, decorated in yellow strawflower and button mums, soars to a height of 24 feet over gardens of 50,000 green roses."
        New Mexico's first entry into the Rose Parade came in 2006 with its $165,000 "Land of Enchantment" float, featuring an adobe-style building, dancers and a buckboard wagon carrying Gov. Bill Richardson and his wife, Barbara.
        The 2006 parade was pounded by rain, marking the first time in more than half a century that had happened. But Cerletti said the number of calls to the Tourism Department's vacation information center that January were nearly 30 percent higher than January 2005, and visits to the agency's Web site in January and February of 2006 were up about 42 percent from the previous year.
        Critics of the state's 2006 float viewed it as a way of promoting Richardson at taxpayer expense.
        They won't be able to use that argument this time around: Richardson is currently seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, and White House hopefuls are barred from participating in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
        Parade officials asked the New Mexico Tourism Department for a letter stating that Richardson won't be in the parade if he's running for president.
        Like the earlier float, New Mexico's entry for the Jan. 1 event was designed by Los Angeles float designer Raul R. Rodriguez and will be built by Pasadena-based Fiesta Parade Floats, an industry heavyweight that also is building entries for the flower company FTD and Macy's.
        "I love it. I think it's going to be a really unique float for the parade," Rodriguez said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "I think this one is going to stand out as being very different."
        So who will ride on the 2008 float with the alien trio?
        Cerletti declined to say on Wednesday but added that the answer will come soon.
        What do you think?
        Love the float? Hate the float? Go to abqjournal.com and cast your float vote.