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.