How to Build a Parade Float
It is wise to begin planning several months before the day of the parade. Look for creative and imaginative people to form a small committee of four to six members. Appoint a chairperson who is a good leader or organizer. When you begin building you will need to know tradespeople with backgrounds in carpentry, painting, and decorating.
Next, have a meeting to discuss ideas: What do you want your float to be about? Is there a prevailing theme? A Jubilee or Anniversary? A homecoming? What about a Mascot? Remember, when designing the float, not to overcrowd it. Select a feature item and two or three complementary items. Your message should be conveyed simply yet powerfully. The sales pitch must be subtle, with the float leaving both an enchanting memory and a positive message with the crowd.
Select one main color and one or two contrasting colors for the float. Use white trim to seperate dark colors. Animals and other props should not be threatening. Keep it simple. Select a place for the organization’s name and place it high and unobstructed on the float in large letters. You want your float to be colorful, eye-catching, and get the attention of the captive audience -including the thousands along the parade route as well as the millions reached by the media. Music from the float will draw attention before it appears and after it has moved on.
The most frequently asked question is HOW MUCH? The cost may vary from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. On commercially built floats, the labor is the most expensive item. For the do-it-yourselfer, the decorations may be the most expensive. Decorations for a float kit start at $700.00 or $800.00. Add a backdrop and the price goes to $1,400.00 or $1,500.00. You will also have to borrow, buy, or rent a flatbed trailer and buy lumber and plywood for it. Fund raising is great way to cover the costs. This is best done months in advance through raffles, silent auctions, donations, social evenings, commercial sponsors, etc.
1. Trailer and Tow Vehicle – The tow vehicle should not detract from the float. It should be as small as possible and decorated. A borrowed trailer will dictate the size and shape of your float, however they are usually available for short periods only. If you buy your own trailer, you can use the float year after year, just sprucing it up or changing the design every few years. There are also collapsible traveling float kits that store easily and can parade from town to town.
2. A Place to Work – A hangar, barn, or warehouse is ideal. Also arrange to have a place to store the float after the parade. If it is sheltered from the elements, this will minimize future reconstruction costs.
3. Plywood and Lumber – Rough ply sheeting or used plywood and lumber can suffice.
4. Tools – Skill-saw, jig-saws, hammers and nails, scissors, staple gun, and staples (1/2″ for coroplast signs, 3/8″ for twist, 1/4″ for floral sheeting), felt markers, pencils and measuring tapes.
5. Decorations – Floral sheeting, vinyl twist, fringe, astroturf, etc.
6. Detailed Plan of Action – Allow yourself anywhere from one to eight weeks before the parade to assemble your float. A float that is very elaborate will obviously require more time to assemble.
A parade float begins with a basic 4-wheel chassis flatbed trailer. Trailers of this type are normally seven to eight feet wide and fourteen to twenty four feet in length. A hay wagon works fine. A smaller type of trailer such as a snowmobile or utility trailer, four feet wide by eight feet long is suitable for smaller organizations. If the surface of the flatbed is not level or has holes in it, you may wish to cover the top with sheets of plywood to provide a sturdy and smooth construction surface.
The width of the apron which goes around the trailer platform, is determined by measuring the distance from the trailer bed to the ground. You will deduct fifteen inches for the fringe drop and the remaining measurement is the width of the apron framework. The apron can be made of plywood also and nailed to the trailer bed or hinges applied for a fold-up version. Sometimes the apron is extended for elaborate rounded shapes that make the float wider.
Once the apron is completed, the next step is to construct the components above the platform known as the superstructures. The decks, background supports, seating platforms and major props are put into place and secured to the flatbed. Remember keep the superstructures simple and well-placed. Floral sheeting, signs, and trim will add more detail.
The final step is decorating and the range of materials can be as endless as your imagination. Vinyl floral sheeting is often used to cover the float. It is sold by the square yard and comes in standard or matallic colours. Next, vinyl twist is added along the edges, around a sign or where two colors meet. ALWAYS DECORATE FROM THE TOP DOWN. Last of all, the fringe and twist is stapled to the bottom of the apron to conceal the wheels and to give a floating appearance.
Don’t Do It?
Floatasia Parade Float Co.
‘Creating breathtaking parade floats that dazzle the eye and ignite the imagination. From concept, including custom rendering, to completion, let Floatasia design your float.’
Parades, Etc. of Texas, LLC
‘Consider us the best in Texas parade float design! Parades Etc. of Texas, LLC analyzes current trade show marketing trends and assists in developing strategies aimed at expanding your company’s market share. From the selection of trade shows available to promoting within those markets, we will tailor a program to fit your products or services.’
Associated Attractions Enterprise
‘Associated Attractions is a full service parade float company and will provide both stock and custom design parade floats for all of the Chicago and suburban area, including northwest Indiana. We also supply both stock and custom parade floats in many cities throughout the midwest.’
Fiesta Parade Floats
‘The lead designer, Raul Rodriguez, is widely recognized as one of the most skilled and awarded designers in the float building industry. With decades of floral design and floral technology experience behind Jim Hynd and the engineering and construction experience of Tim Estes, the company is able to translate Raul Rodriguez’s beautiful designs into masterful floral presentations.’
‘At Lawless Industries we specialize in parade float chassis design & manufacture and high efficiency electric vehicle drive systems. … and your guests will too. When it comes to entertainment, nothing appeals to a wider range of people than a spectacular parade. Lawless Industries has been designing and building specialized parade float chassis for over 20 years.’
Blue Box Displays
‘Blue Box Displays’ business’ origin stems from a philosophy of bringing wonders of the mind to our clients. We are known for our extravagant displays, excellent service and broadness of design/display capabilities. Underpinning our focus on realism, caricature and surrealism is a desire to bring a rich clarity of expression in our art to a wide audience.’
ABC Parade Floats
‘Greetings! ABC Parade Floats has more than 30 years of experience in the parade and event industry. Our parade float company proudly serves the Midwest and most other areas of the U.S. Our parade floats, mobile displays, and props are built by professional float builders with more than 50 years’ combined experience.’
Manmade Parade Floats
‘Manmade President, and multi-award winning parade float designer, Steven Mansueto, was reared on the parade shop floor. His father, one of North America’s first and foremost designers, passed the torch early on, seeing the extraordinary understanding for conceptual design, combined with materials use, which is mandatory in creating a traveling masterpiece that may have separate and independently moving elements that can also withstand human interaction and yet have the delicacy of movement.’
Amy O’Neill’s Parade Float Graveyard
‘Amy O’Neill’s ongoing project Parade Float Graveyard (2004-) recreates floats and fragments of floats from past parades. The fragments include symbols such as flowers, animals, patriotic shields, scout insignias, and industrial gears. O’Neill’s work in this series is inspired by the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade, the popular New Year’s Day procession begun in 1890. The artist possesses an extensive archive of Rose Parade paraphernalia, including slides, records, and posters, which she uses as found material throughout the series.’ — imamuseum.org
p.s. Hey. Years ago someone who called themselves Astro Float Materials built this post for my previous blog, and I decided the other day that it doesn’t deserve to be dead, so I’ve rebuilt it. Thank you, again, AFM, if you’re still out there. ** Wolf, Howl! Yeah, I had to approve your first comment before it showed up. Spam filter stuff, which is understandable and all, I suppose but … Awesome list, completely full of things I myself have not experienced yet, so notes have been scribbled accordingly. Gosh. Thank you, E. And for the back-up on my Hockney rant. Love love etc.! ** Chris dankland, Hi, Chris! I don’t know of those last two books on your list, so I’m going to get all over finding them out. Your old books attention is very inspiring. I never read old books anymore. I don’t know what happened. Music list: cool. I forgot the Juana Molina. That should have been on mine. Hope your weekend rocked you sideways and back and forth. ** David Ehrenstein, My great pleasure on the inclusion. I’ve heard interesting things about ‘After Louie’. I’ll look for it. Yeah, maybe a bit harsh but not exceedingly so, for sure. I hung out with DH once in the 80s. He was really nice and funny. Interesting looking piece on an interesting seeming book about Arbus, thank you! ** Steevee, Hi. Yes, the mid-year list seems not to be the usual viral thing this year. I blame Trump watch, I guess. Still haven’t seen ‘Get Out’ or any of your list films. Will, though. Thanks, man. Mum’s the word, but that’s very interesting about the move into curation. Well, on the one hand, we’ve spent very little time together in the real, but, on the other hand, I’ve talked with you almost day here for years now, and it’s hard for me to imagine you ever saying things that could be hurtful and offensive, even accidentally. My utter sympathies on the bipolar effects. You know my beloved George Miles was severely bipolar, and the extreme difficulty he faced just living his life as a result was the hardest thing I’ve ever been around and experienced with someone I knew and loved. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, T. Well, of course! I still haven’t heard that new Perfume Genius that everyone seems to like so much. Will be rectified. That Tony Conrad (re)issue is wonderful! If the Hockney retrospective comes to LA, and undoubtedly it will, you should go see it. ** Sypha, My pleasure, man! Your lists are packed with unknowns (except for Killian and the Keenan, which I still really want to read), and I’ll check into making them knowns, thank you, James! ** _Black_Acrylic, Morning, Ben. Thanks a whole bunch for sharing your faves! ** Andrew Ervin, Hi, Andrew! Oh, man, thank you! I just finished your book the other day. It’s pure joy and a book I had only daydreamed would exist. Great respect to you! ** Bill, Hey hey. Wonderful lists! A whole lot of music I haven’t heard yet and will get onto and into asap, for instance. You’re so lucky on the Bruce Conner retro. That’s probably my saddest miss of the year. ** Will C. Hi! From what I know about Computer Science, that seems like an extremely good thing to concentrate on. Congrats! It’s true about stability’s and writing’s codependence. There’s so much romance about literature derived from inner chaos, but I think that’s 98% romance based on selective knowledge. But, yeah, as your friends said, it can be good for filling the storage tanks. The fact that you’re happy and doing very interesting things is all there is to it. Best to you, Will! ** S., The sun is the total top and meanest daddy, you’re right. The Pallbearer was good, yeah. Forgot it. Decrisp. ** H, Thank you. I saw ‘Ulysses in the Subway’ online — not the best place to see it — thanks to the kind intervention of someone. Thank you very much for sharing your favorites. I have written down the ones I don’t yet know in ink on the back of an envelope that is lying next to my computer for just that purpose. ** Jamie, Eimaj! I’m good, thanks. The weekend was more than a little too hot and humid, but, you know, I’m still here, and it’s supposed to drop 10 degrees today, so hopefully I will stop whining about the heat for a few days. Otherwise, not too much happened. Oh, the movie. Yeah, what happened? Zac had the invites. He forgot to bring it up yesterday. I forgot to ask. So I think we just stupidly missed it due to short term memory bad stuff. Pharmaceutical hijinks-inspired writing sounds exciting. I wrote some pretty good stuff while I was doing a lot of speed. It can happen. Let the altered imagination flow, man! Cool! Yes, today color grading starts. This morning the color grader is transferring the files of our film into a super high grade quality version or something, and once she has done that, probably this afternoon, or tomorrow morning at the very latest, we’ll dive in and likely be doing that from morning ’til evening daily (except for Saturday and Sunday and, I guess, Bastille Day) for the next two weeks. I will tell you as much about it as I can imagine could be remotely interesting. It’ll probably be pretty nerdy and laborious. Split pea dal! Oh, my god. I’m a world’s biggest split pea fan. For instance, I love split pea soup used as pasta sauce just to show the extremity of my thing. Yum, lucky you. How did Newcastle seem on a personal, artistic, and spiritual level today? Hunger Games love, Dennis. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Busy is a beast. I mean I’m busy, but I don’t have a regular job that organizes and eats my time with stuff that I have to do to survive, and I think that’s very different somehow? Gael Monfils, sure. He gets a lot of expected press here. I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen him play. I do like talented head-cases though. Obviously. I love chocolate, dark not milk, but not chocolate ice cream so much. It tastes like frozen hot chocolate to me, too sweet or something, and I don’t like hot chocolate one little bit. I like my chocolate very bitter. Yep, better sleep during the week sounds like a plan, for sure, is there one? ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dóra! Oh, thank you, I would be interested to know your favorites if you have the time and interest. In one way, it seems like a lecture that leaves you with more questions than before sounds successful, but, in another way, that sounds quite frustrating. Hm. So cool that you’re on the very precipice of finishing your book! And I’m very happy about your fun things- and friends-filled weekend! Mine was all right, heat aside. But it pounded rain, thunder, and lightning all night, and I think today is going to be sweet in that regard, except that apparently a bunch of metro stations are flooded, so I hope I can get to the editing studio without too many zigzags. And today, pray tell? ** Joseph, Hi there, Joseph! Nice to see you! No, I don’t even know what ‘The Strange Color Of Your Body’s Tears’ is. Obviously I’ll investigate that straight away as you’ve intrigued me. Nice title. Thanks a lot! I’m good, and I hope you are too. ** Okay. I’ve already intro’d the post up above. I’ll expect your parade float designs on my desk first thing tomorrow morning, ha ha. Etc. See you tomorrow.
Yes, I’ll definitely put my own list together! In the meanwhile, thank you for yours!!
I have similar feelings about the lecture. I guess I’ll just consider it a “teaser” or something and then it was worth it.
We had quite a storm here last night too, which was nice weather-wise but my dog is absolutely terrified of lightning/thunders so I’ve been awake on and off since 4 in the morning. I’m a bit like a zombie by now but, BUT I finished reading my book which means that now I consider it ready for its first ever readers!
How are things on your end? How are the next steps of the editing going? I hope the flooded metro stations didn’t cause too much trouble!
There was a realy great gay porn feature back in the day (so far back it was shot on 16mmfilm rater than video) entitled “More Than a Man” it starred the late, great and much-missed Joey Stefano and in its climactic sex scene Joey and someone eles equally gorgeous do it inside a parade float during Gay Pride.
To be honest, I have talked shit about people I know behind their backs, although I think I did so because they behaved in ways that pissed me off and I was justified in doing so. If I did this on social media, I tried to do it in such a vague way that no one could recognize them and/or in places they don’t have access to. But this doesn’t exactly make me look like a good person.
As for the film curation, I’m kind of at a crossroads in my life honestly, and there’s a possibility that I could get heavily into this, but there are people who have power over the projects that I’m working on with whom I need to have some really serious conversations about this. I haven’t had them yet, but I sent out a lengthy E-mail laying out what I want to do in the future to two of the people I’m working with. I did talk on the phone this morning to a person who’s tangentially involved and he completely agrees with my ideas and thinks the other people will be sympathetic. I’m sorry for being so vague, but I spent the weekend mouthing off to fellow film critics and friends about a lot of things that are up in the air now and I really need to be totally discreet now as a consequence.
At the risk of being melodramatic, I’m attending a meeting Friday that could have a big impact on my future, at least if I want to pursue film curation at all, and I’m not at all sure how to express all my ideas – and I have tons of them – without seeming like I want to take over something that’s a communal project in which I’m a subordinate and neophyte partner. I know that what I want to do could wind up having a big impact on the voice of the institution I’m working with, directing it towards my interests, and I want to finesse with my co-workers in a way that doesn’t scare them away or threaten them. From what I know of them, they’re cool with working with co-programmers, but I’m completely new to this, and we’ve never yet explicitly discussed exactly what my position is. I hope I’ve expressed myself in a way that makes sense and is vague but not totally coy.
I don’t even remember this one, oddly enough. But I do like the big black spider float, and some of those graveyard ones at the end are very sad and poignant.
I remember in the year 2000 Leeds attempted a Love Parade like they have in Berlin, with DJs playing from different clubs’ floats and dancers following them around the streets. Only the council got cold feet and it was relocated from the city centre to Roundhay Park. I attended, the weather was gloomy and it wound up being something of a damp squib. Something maybe got lost in translation there which is a shame as I always thought it’s a nice idea for a parade.
I’m seeing Errol Morris’ THE B-SIDE this evening. To be honest, the buzz on this has been fairly negative, but I like GATES OF HEAVEN, THE THIN BLUE LINE and (especially) FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL so much that I’ll see any of his films.
I just wanted to check in about last week’s post. Thank you so much for including Gag on the list! I’m working on the sequel to it now, and apparently a Dutch publisher is interested in translating it. I was reminded of your video re The Marbled Swarm on that, where I’ve already fucked with it so much in terms of translation and languages to try and reach some new grammar with it, so I can’t imagine what translating it to Dutch would be like. We’ll see. The contract for the sequel to Gag–called Clog, and basically an expanded version of the User’s Manual that was going to come out on SL, but is now slated for ITC–is all signed and everything. I don’t know if you saw, awhile back, over at QMT, the Clog pieces that were published, but yea it’ll be a looong book in that vein. I want to kind of try to leave everything in this book, so we will see. Really inspired by Darby Larson at the moment so it’s very in that mode.
What else. I’ve been terrified lately. Going through a lot of shit personally and with anxiety and obsessing over shit from the past and everything. Really fucked up. I’ve been thinking of you and your work a lot with this in mind. Found out I will receive copies of Sotos as well from NBB so thinking of trying to write at length on him and his work if possible.
Favorite art, definitely In Their Arms for one. This Book is a Ghost that SL put out awhile ago. A lot of bullshit reality television. The books that Edit Publications put out celebrating Tan Lin’s work for sure. The Fanzine and everything surrounding the publication of Person/A definitely. All the new Blake Butler. pieces published here and there. Sucker June although that’s a reread. His new one, Sir William Forsythe’s Freebase Nuptuals, I had the immense pleasure of blurbing. Not sure if it’s officially released but it’s amazing. Haven’t listened to a lot of new music but I was excited to see GBV has a new one coming out. Reading a lot of Bataille as well in terms of my anxiety and obsession and shit. I dunno. I’m fucked up lately. Art helps but only in the extreme. Sean Kilpatrick turned me onto Seth Morgan as well, which was helpful as a thought experiment. Literature after being convicted of crimes and shit. I dunno. Saw fragments of your SOMA film project with the Pasolini-character-looking guy in the woods saying “please don’t rape me” and I think about that a fucking ton lately. No real film experiences in a long time. Went to Sandpoint ID for my birthday and went to the beach with my family. Oh shit Brian Evenson always too. I used to rationalize that I was never as fucked up as the most fucked up artists I’m into, but lately it feels like I am which is sort of daunting. Hell I dunno.
I hope this finds you quite well my friend, and again thank you for including Gag!
Here’s my latest review, on the documentary BRONX GOTHIC: http://gaycitynews.nyc/sexually-frank-terms/
I thought it was a fantastic post when it appeared first time on your now sleeping blog. Revisiting it feels magical and fresh — thank you! I really love an imagination of parade– preferably, a poetic, polyphonic one. (who wouldn’t I guess. )
Oh, I don’t think I added much to your & others’ lists. But I highly recommend Anne Garreta’s Not One Day. I liked Sphinx more (I’m sure you read it), but I think this one is also great.
Today rather brief and scattered here — apologies. I’m quite behind with my work, so trying to stay hectic and diligent for the rest of this summer. (I might watch Okja though at some point as you say you liked it.) Happy to read your work’s been going well & hope the heat in Paris will diminish soon. Here the summer’s been decent so far.
PS. I will write to you about the interview regarding your poetry hopefully in late July. I might need to move soon, so things are a little fuzzy here, but I’m getting used to working under some lifey pressure. I’m sure tough I will pop up here occasionally. Thank you for supporting my work as always.
Hola Dencaster, excellent post. My train ride to Newcastle this morning was taken up with going slowly through yours and others lists from the weekend (an education) then enjoying this post. Put a smile on my miserable old face, I tell you. Thanks. Some of those parade pics are just perfect. I particularly love the one with the with the white faced wizards who all look unaware that they’re being photographed.
How was your day? How was the world of colour-grading?
Newcastle/Sunderland has been utterly frustrating and joyless, tbh. My boss’s plans to chuck all our cash into one expensive glorious cartoon last week have pragmatized into making a couple more low budget cartoons using the same company and style that we’ve used already. I fully understand his reasoning, but I was getting all excited about the blow-out. It’s funny, though – I’ve had a pretty joyless time making this one and throughout the whole project, but I can’t stop having ideas about making another cartoon.
I love your love of the split pea and agree with it entirely. My dal was a very good one, soupy and perfectly spiced.
Did you get up to anything else apart from film stuff? I’m off to bed cos I was up at 5.30 am. Yuck.
Bon Tuesday to you,
Rivers of Babylon love,
During the relatively polite portion of my conversation with that woman who went on a 15-minute rant against the rapper she’d never heard, we were talking about Jay-Z. She said something like “He was never that talented, and people are only still listening to him because he outlived Biggie and Pac and he kept on making music for more than 20 years.” I defended REASONABLE DOUBT and THE BLUEPRINT as hip-hop classics. This was all quite politely expressed, and I really didn’t have a problem with it. Well, I’ve heard his new album, and it’s an interesting attempt to come to terms with the fact that he’s a very rich middle-aged man far removed from the experiences he spent years rapping about and he’s now much more concerned with the possibility of his wife cheating on him than getting busted for coke dealing. If Tosh Berman liked hip-hop, I think it would be his cup of tea. I was tempted to E-mail her and say what I just said, then I remembered who she is, how dogmatic her politics are and realized this would probably be the start of a long and unpleasant conversation.
Hey Dennis, In that case, once you investigate and have the time to view it if you want, it’ll be obvious why I brought it to your virtual table. Complaints about movies (or any other media) seem to be more enticing than compliments, and that’s all I’ll say about that since you don’t or didn’t know what I was talking about. In the event you do, I hope you don’t find it total a waste of your time. In the between I’ll investigate all of that you listed with which I wasn’t familiar.
Today’s post made me happy with the content combined with the name of the author… imagining someone out their making it their mission to spread as far and wide as possible the joys of parade floats and other devices what float, astrological or otherwise… fighting the good fight of their choosing.
Dennis, What’s the joke? “How do you make God laugh?” “Make a plan.”
I’m trying to sleep better this week, but I somehow found myself listening to ABBA videos.
Yeah, a 9-to-5 is an interesting creature, no? Better than not having any means of support. I really like my job. I like the people. It’s just the hellacious commute that eats up so much extra time. I have to find a way to make a shitload of money -legally, of course- so I don’t have to worry about such things. Easier said than done, of course.
I like dark chocolate in small doses. I get this thing with any kind of chocolate here the roof of my mouth swells and gets itchy bumps. I guess I’m kind of allergic.
In high school, my friends and I stopped by this girl’s house where they were building the class float. We pitched in. We were pretty drunk, actually. But it was fun and kind of eye-opening. Such tedious work. Interesting to see the raw materials and then what it became.
ill just keep applying the cocoa butter. my favorite about the sun, the skys cruel torch. i was having a burger at a drag queen burger joint hamburger marys and they were talking about a lot of wasting floats it was twisted. whatever happened to the ununcanny everything is so pastische. i propose a bisexual jello stripper float
Hi Dennis, thought of you today on Fire Island, my first trip there this summer, how it’s not really my scene either, still, I love it there for certain things I like to do, like their eggplant pizza or heroes – the best. Split pea is my 2nd favorite soup – I wish you could have had my grandmother’s – it was the very best! Had a laugh the other day with your phrase, “This blog is not a Joni Mitchell zone.” I’ll always remember that…I’m a Joni fan, but wasn’t offended, just liked your wording. How ya doin kid? I think of you every time I pass by the New Museum, which is fairly often, going to the Bowery to get special light bulbs.
How’s it going? What you’re up to?
Once again I’m in your country right now.
I’m really glad you enjoyed ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’. Love that movie. Just got it on Blu-Ray.
I’m waiting for any news of when I’ll be able to see my beloved Sofi’s ‘The Beguiled’ in theaters in my country. Hope it doesn’t take that long. *Sigh*.
Hey, ever heard Scout Niblett? I just recently re-acquainted with and re-discovered her ‘I Conjure Series’ album. I’d completely forgotten about it. At the time I didn’t really like it very much; but now I fucking LOVE it. Ever heard it? I very, very highly recommend it. I really think it could be something up your alley.
I really appreciate being able to talk to you even if it’s in this manner.
Good day; good luck,
Lots of love and hugs,