The first step in planning any float is to thoroughly read all of the information concerning entry fees, deadlines, transporting the float, parade rules and regulations and most importantly, safety requirements. If your float is for a specific event, check with the Parade Chairman for the theme so that you can decide on an appropriate design for your float.
Designing Your Float
The next step is to build or borrow a float trailer (see sketches below) which will determine the size of your float. Floats have been built on trailers, jeeps, cars, even boats and barges. However, most floats are built on trailers that are 8 feet or less in width to allow for ease of travel to and from the parade route.
Have a meeting with your float builders so that everyone can agree on a design. You can then split up the work: one group can be in charge of props or costumes that will be used on the float. Another group can be in charge of the lettering or signage that will be displayed on the float for your organization. Another group can be in charge of the frame-work used underneath the decorating materials. Building a float is a team effort, so make sure everyone understands their part in building the float.
A great way to decide on a theme for your float is to start with the theme of the parade and use symbols associated with the theme. For example, if your parade has a Christmas theme, start with basic ideas of what Christmas is best associated with:
1) Christmas trees (you could have a Christmas tree with flame-retardant flocking on your float as a prop)
2) Christmas gifts (large presents on your float make great props and are easy to create!)
3) Colors of red, green, white (helps with choosing the colors of your float)
4) Winter time/snow (you can use flame resistant white cotton-like materials, such as upholstery stuffing, to simulate snow. These are available at your local fabric store.
5) Family dinner (a table on the float portraying a family gathered at Christmas dinner)
6) Santa’s workshop (Children can be dressed as elves)
Get everyone involved who is building the floats’ input on how the float should look. Creativity is at its best when everyone has a say at what the float should look like. Write down all of the ideas on a chalk-board or large presentation paper and agree to a design. Creativity is sometimes the most difficult part of building the float, but it is also the most fun!