The City of Glendale float "Say Cheese"

The City of Glendale float "Say Cheese" participates in the 122nd Tournament of Roses Rose Parade themed ÒBuilding Dreams, Friendships & MemoriesÓ in Pasadena on Saturday, January 1, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso extended a lifeline to Glendale’s float entry in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on Tuesday, donating $25,000 in a last-minute challenge to the community to raise the other half needed to salvage the project.

Facing a projected budget deficit of $18 million, the City Council has said the city would be forced to scrap its subsidy of at least $80,000 for the float unless the community pitched in $50,000 to help fund the roughly $130,000 cost for construction and management.

Typically, the Glendale Rose Float Assn. is asked to raise $50,000 to offset the subsidy, but the volunteer organization has in recent years struggled to attract major donors. In turn, city officials created their own account where tax-deductible donations could be sent.

But as of last week, Glendale’s Rose Parade float was on life support, with just $596 in donations received and the deadline for signing a float construction contract looming.

City officials have said the contract must be signed by the end of the month to allow enough time for construction.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Rick Lemmo — a Caruso Affiliated executive and former president of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce — announced the $25,000 “challenge grant” to get the community to raise the other $25,000 to make the float happen.

“We can use the Rose Parade to let everyone know what a world class city Glendale is,” Lemmo said.

In the wake of the announcement, officials on Wednesday said several other local businesses had contacted City Hall about also possibly making large donations, said city spokeswoman Vicki Gardner.

“Things are looking up,” she said.

City Councilman Dave Weaver — a longtime float advocate and organizer who has in recent weeks lamented the potential of dropping out of the parade after 97 years of city participation — said he was thrilled by the recent turn of events.

“It was kind of a last-minute shock because fundraising hasn’t exactly gone bonkers,” he said. “I’m hoping this challenge will work. I’m really grateful.”