Intro: Building a Makerspace Parade Float
This year, the Pride and Canada Day parades in Whitehorse were less than a week apart! Our makerspace joined the parades with a float that worked well for both events.
The process of planning and making a parade float can seem like a big task so this instructable covers a few tips and tricks to help your group along, as well as a overview of how we put our 2016 parade float together.
YuKonstruct is the first makerspace in Canada's north. Our mission is to provide access to shared space, quality tools, available expertise, and a collaborative environment to help makers build anything!
Step 1: Planning/brainstorm Session
Gather a group of people together to brainstorm ideas. The best people to help with this are the people likely to join the parade, but you'll find that some volunteers are interested in building floats and not riding on them, and vice-versa.
Select a location for your planning session where you have room for your volunteers to chat. Our builders are an excitable bunch (especially when talking about potential fun projects), so we chose a time and place where our boisterous discussion wouldn't bother anyone.
- a whiteboard, flip chart or a chalkboard (with pens/markers/chalk)
- access to the internet and a screen everyone can look at together (for sharing inspiration images or looking things up)
Make a list of the ideas and themes people feel would be fun.
Tip: If you are re-using the float, try to keep in mind what the transition will look like.
Run through an inventory of the resources you currently have available (vehicles to tow the float, trailer, materials leftover from previous projects, etc).
When you've settled on the winning idea, break it down into the tasks that will need to be accomplished. Assign volunteers to each task and create a shopping list of materials you will need to acquire to complete the project.
Tip: It's helpful to have one person selected to be a project lead or manager, so everyone knows who to ask if they have questions. This person can also follow up with volunteers to make sure everything gets done.
For this float, our volunteers decided on a whimsical, brightly coloured float with Dr.Seuss-inspired props such as truffula trees and fluffy cattails. The float also incorporated rainbows and unicorns for the Pride parade which were transformed into red and white pompoms and moose for Canada Day.
Step 2: Shopping/Gathering Materials
Gather all your supplies.
For the Pride Parade, we made sure to buy a lot of fun and bright coloured materials for the float!
- rainbow plastic tablecloth material and tableskirts
- "feather" dusters
- feather boas
- tissue paper
- duct tape
- every colour of the rainbow spray paints
For the transformation to the Canada Day parade we made sure we had extra of the red and white plastic skirts, balloons and spray paint.
Volunteers asked local construction companies and hardware stores for donations and collected a large amount of white insulation foam to use on the float.
Step 3: Skirts
Plastic pleated party table skirts from the dollar store are an easy and relatively cheap way to quickly transform any utility trailer into a parade float.
The table skirts come with an adhesive strip, so it is really easy to attach them around the edge of the trailer.
For Pride we cut the table skirts into smaller sections and attached them around the float in a rainbow. For Canada Day we used red and white skirts.
Step 4: Cutting and Painting Carboard Gears
Because we are a makerspace, we wanted to incorporate gears into our parade float.
We found vector files for gears online (the noun project is a great resource for this sort of thing) and cut the shapes out of scrap cardboard with the makerspace's laser cutter.
We then painted gears in every colour with spray paint.
To ease the transition between the two events, we painted one side with all the rainbow colours for Pride, and the other side with red for Canada Day. After the first parade we just had to flip over the gears.
Step 5: Seussical Scenery Arches
To add to the whimsical look of our float, we built Dr. Suess-inspired arches for each side of the trailer.
We drew the arch shapes on the donated insulation foam sheets with permanent marker. The foam was then cut with a saw.
To join the pieces together, we used bamboo stakes and expanding foam. We also added bamboo stakes across the back to add strength.
The finished arches were painted green and attached to the trailer with wire.
Step 6: Adding the Other Elements
See our other instructables for details on making some of our float's other feature props: