Before You Build!
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 keep your message subtle and positive.
Considerate 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.
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.
Using a Low-Boy Trailer
It is a good idea to build a partial deck that will be even with the top rails of the float. You can use good quality pallets to make a platform. Make sure the pallets are firmly fastened to the bed of the float.
Next, lay sheet plywood over the pallets. Now you will have a platform for your props and an area in the bed where float riders can stand or sit. If your float riders will be standing, make a stanchion and secure it to the trailer bed so that they have something to hold onto while traveling the parade route. Remember…Safety first!
Step 1: After the plywood is laid over the pallets, build a skirt frame using 1″ X 1″ or 2″ X 2″ pieces of wood and fasten the frame to the trailer rails and the plywood. The skirt frame is used to hide the wheels and undercarriage. Any number of items can be used to fasten the skirt frame to the rails: plumbers tape or construction U-shaped brackets are ideal for attachment of the skirt frame to the trailer bed rails. Be sure to terminate the skirt frame approximately 16″ from the ground and allow for tongue movement at the front of the float.
Step 2- 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 this Float Decorating Products Page for more information on 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
Next, apply floral sheeting by stapling it to the wood skirt frame as shown above. Additionally, you can use floral sheeting to cover the deck-platform as well as on the bed of the float. To see a complete line of float decorating products visit this Float Decorating Products Page
Step 3: To hide the seam between the float fringe and floral sheeting, use Valley’s petal festooning (a stiff-wire petal garland). The festooning color you choose allows you to add even more color to your float! Festooning can be stapled through the fringe and floral sheeting materials and into the wood frame.
Whether you use floral sheeting or fringe-panels on the sides of your float, it is a good idea to use festooning to finish the edges of the float. You can use festooning in a color other than your fringe panels to add more color to your float!