Saturday, January 2, 2010

Parade floats

Did you watch the Tournament of Roses Parade yesterday? I watched some of it and of course it led to a weird news round-up. I remembered seeing footage on TV of the lack of visibility when driving a parade float, and sure enough I found a video of what the driver sees - little more than the stripe down the middle of the road! With the help of a good spotter, though, things rarely go wrong, but that is not always the case. In 2006, a man driving a float in the Anderson (South Carolina) Christmas Parade put 12 children, 6 adults, and his own son at risk by driving drunk - he was charged with DUI, 18 counts of assault, and 18 counts of kidnapping. A 9-year-old Cub Scout - one of 20 riding on a float in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, holiday parade that same year - fell off when the float hit a bump, and was run over and killed. The decorations on a float in this year's Christmas parade in Leesburg, Florida, slid and caused the vehicle to collapse, trapping several dancers underneath, but their injuries were minor. The Grand Marshall of this year's Rose Parade was none other than heroic pilot Captain Chesley "Sully" Sellenberger. When the decision was announced, NBC reported, "Sullenberger will have the best seat in the house for the parade and football game. But he won't have to guide his Grand Marshal's float, or hopefully take any emergency actions."

The theme of some floats stirs controversy, such as the entry in Brazil's 2008 carnival parade, which invoked the Holocaust with a mound of mannequins and provoked the Jewish Federation of Rio de Janeiro. But others don't seem to meet with much outcry, for example the float in the February 2007 Rose Monday carnival parade in Mainz, Germany, featuring U.S. President George W. Bush being spanked by the Statue Of Liberty. At this year's Rose Parade, a float celebrating organ donors received a lot of press, but of course no protest.

This year a woman from South Carolina celebrated her 80th birthday by volunteering as a Petal Pusher to help decorate floats for the Rose Parade. Once the preparation is done, getting a float to the parade can be quite a production. After the float committee obtained a permit from each city it would pass through, officers from California Polytechnic escorted their university's 2010 Rose Parade float along the 4-hour route from Pomona to Pasadena. But those precautions can only be made when there is a float to move. In November in Flint, Michigan, the 22' parade float used by the United Auto Workers Local 599 for special events was stolen from its parking spot at the union hall. And in December, a float belonging to a local group of businessmen was damaged in an arson fire in Tampa, Florida.

After the parade, all that's left to do is a little clean-up - again thanks to volunteers!

1 comment:

  1. I am confident that the episode of Dirty Jobs where he goes to the place where they take apart the decomposing floats (made of fruit and flowers) was one of the most revolting!


You may add your comments here.