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Design the Winning Homecoming Parade Float

Posted by Stumps Spirit on August 24, 2011

The parade float contest is a fun and challenging Homecoming tradition. Designing a winning Homecoming parade float may seem daunting, but with some basic design concepts and the right tools, you’ll be on your way to parade victory in no time.

Parade Float Design:
Creativity is the secret to designing a winning parade float. If your parade has a theme, try to come up with a unique spin on the theme. Rather than creating a straightforward interpretation of the theme, think of a different angle. For example, if it’s a retro theme, try making a time-travel parade float, rather than recreating a single decade. If you have a Western theme, try a more urban cowboy look. The unexpected approach often wows judges.

When you design your parade float, don’t overreach your time and budget. Elaborate floats can be stunning, but if they’re not well-crafted they often come out worse than simpler floats that are expertly assembled. When you plan your float design, think about how much space, money, and other resources you have. You can always add more embellishment once your basic design is perfected.

For building decorations, think about shapes that you can construct. Parade float decorations are often made out of chicken wire and tissue squares, corrugated cardboard, plywood, and heavy paper. Design your float using basic lines and shapes that you can make out of these materials. Once you have the design basics figured out, you can get as creative as you want! Stumps Spirit also has a wide selection of Homecoming theme decorations that can be used on your parade floats.

Parade Float Supplies:
Many floats are built on a 8’ x 16′ farm wagon with the back removed. A similar size trailer, used to move small construction equipment, might be borrowed from a local construction company. Or, a float could be built on the back of a flat bed truck.

To decorate your float, create a light wooden frame around the wagon using #2 1 x 3 pine. The frame should extend from the top of the wagon bed to about 15” from the ground. A basic frame this size requires approximately 140’ of lumber.
To calculate how much floral sheeting you need for your float, measure the distance around in feet and divide by three to get the yardage. Floral sheeting is sold in square yards. Use the floral sheeting to cover the frame and floor of your float or to build decorations with.

Use metallic fringe to hide the wheels and create the illusion that the float is floating. This size float requires five 10’ packages of metallic fringe. Fringe can be added in your school colors or colors that match your float design.
Edge the perimeter of your float in festooning. This size float requires three, 48’ rolls of festooning. The floral sheeting, festooning and fringe are all made of the same plastic material (waterproof, fade-proof and flameproof) and reusable for another float at another time if you remove the materials carefully after the parade. Festooning is also useful in building larger decorations.

Add your team name or spirit slogan to the side of your float using Styrofoam letters or numbers. Tri-fold float signs and custom banners also work really well for this purpose and they can be reused later for other Homecoming events. Don’t forget a custom banner for team members to carry in front of your float in the parade.

Check out all of Stumps Spirit’s float building supplies and parade float tips!


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