Build a Parade Float Using a Hay-Trailer
Try to find a trailer with a wood bed. A hay trailer is ideal for float building.
After you choose your float size, try to determine what message you want to convey, staying within the parameters of the parade theme. If your theme is humorous, make sure that no one will be offended by it. Always use good taste and remember that no one likes a blatant advertisement so try to keep your message subtle and positive.
Another important design consideration is the capabilities of your float builders. If you are planning on having elaborate props or woodwork, make sure that you have access to someone who is a capable technician, with proper tools and equipment. If you have electrical requirements, consult a qualified electrician*. Animations and prop movements can also be human-powered. Simple pulleys and rope can be used to make props rotate and move.
*Some parades do not allow gas-powered engines or generators on the float itself. Always consult the Fire Marshall and Parade Chairman
There are a few items you will want to have on hand before building your float. A staple gun, nails, wire, chicken-wire, 1" X 1" and 2" X 2" construction grade wood and plywood can be purchased at your local hardware store.
Once you have an approved* float design and all of the necessary materials you are ready to begin construction.
*Float entry's often must be approved by the Parade Chairman before allowed into the parade.
First, build a skirt frame from 2" X 2" pieces of wood and fasten the frame to the trailer bed with hinges, (so that the sides can be folded onto the bed of the trailer for ease of transportation to and from the parade). The skirt frame is used to hide the wheels and undercarriage. Be sure to terminate the skirt frame approximately 16" from the ground and allow for tongue movement at the front of the float.
Build a skirt frame and attach with hinges to the deck of the float.
Decorating the float
Deck and side skirts: Calculate the floral sheeting requirements in square yards by multiplying the length times the width of each differently colored area, (floral Sheeting comes 36" wide by 10 or 25 yard lengths). See Float Decorating Products Page for more information on Valley's float decorating supplies.
Cut the floral sheeting as needed and attach to the bottom of the skirt and staple to the deck of the trailer.
Attaching floral sheeting strips to the skirts and deck
After attachment of the floral sheeting, use a staple-gun to attach our decorative fringe to the bottom of the 2" X 2" frame. Then use our petal festooning to hide the seam line between the floral sheeting and fringe. You can calculate the amount of fringe and petal festooning you will need by adding the total running length of the perimeter of the float.
Attachment of fringe and festooning.
Topside: The amount of floral sheeting needed for covering curved areas and props is determined by visualizing these areas as if they were boxes. Make sure you order enough material to cover the box. Valley's floral sheeting can be attached to the props by using nails, staples, hog-rings, twist-ties etc.
The finished product!!
Built by the Kerman, Ca. Chamber of Commerce and used in a Christmas Parade, The above pictured float is easy to build!
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