Build a Float

Floats add so much to a parade! Students and community entries are welcome. We appreciate your efforts to make the Parade of Nations a spectacular event. These Seven Steps to Parade Float Success will help you create an entry to be proud of.

  1. The sooner you begin the better. Start with a group of six to twelve to tackle the main tasks: Budget, theme, structural design, decorating and communications.

  2. Spend time in design before you gather materials or begin building. How will your float fit the Parade of Nations theme? Does it comply with float rules? How will you interact with the crowd (Candy is allowed!)? Explore Pinterest boards and other online resources for ideas and sources on where to find materials.

  3. Set a budget. Save costs by re-purposing and borrowing tools and materials. If you can, invest in quality materials for flooring and other items that can be re-used to save future time and expense. Find inexpensive decorations at discount, dollar, craft, hardware or thrift stores locally or online. St. Vincent De Paul (Hancock), Goodwill (Houghton) and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (Calumet) are among places to check.

    Students may also qualify for a small grant to help with expenses.

  4. Ask a farmer, construction company, landscaper or a snowmobiler to loan a trailer or vehicle. Offer to list the sponsor name on your float.

  5. Stock basic household tools: Saws, screw guns, hammers, nails, and a heavy-duty stapler. Use tools properly with appropriate safety equipment, including eye protection.

  6. Gather helping hands for the actual building and to help hold structures in place. Share a potluck meal or host a cookout. Enjoy!

  7. Coordinate transportation to the parade line-up. Assign meeting time and place in advance. Decide beforehand who rides on the float, who walks and who drives. During the parade keep the driver’s view clear. Never throw candy. Gently toss it a short distance or hand it out.

Child picking up parade candy

We do candy!

But nobody wants to run out before the end of the parade. So if you decide to pass out treats, our parade experts advise stocking the equivalent of two five-gallon pails. Use small sand buckets to divide up the supply if you have several people handing goodies out. For no-sugar options consider beads, bracelets, stickers or other small, inexpensive trinkets. You may find good deals ordering in quantity online. It also doesn’t hurt to ask local merchants for a parade discount.