How to Decorate a Parade Float to Look Like a Ship

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Parades are part of all types of international, national and local celebrations, and can be simple ways to celebrate a holiday or elaborate high-scale productions. From Mardi Gras parades to Thanksgiving parades, many people have watched or been a part of some type of parade. If you’re planning to participate in a local parade, there are simple ways to build a cost-efficient ship float without having to hire a professional.

Things You'll Need

  • Float base
  • Cardboard
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Blue poster board
  • Blue streamers
  • Tape
  • Portable flagpole
  • White sheet
  • Fishing net
  • Costumes

Planning the Float

Learn about the parade entry rules and regulations to determine the size of your float. Pick a location to build your float that will be protected from the weather, like a garage.

Draw a rough sketch of what you want your parade float to look like.

Choose between a flatbed trailer, pickup truck or convertible automobile for your base.

Assign responsibilities to all involved and create a work schedule.

Building the Base

Use the staple gun and tape to place the cardboard around the base of the flatbed trailer, pickup truck bed or body of the car. Secure it evenly around the entire diameter of the float base to create your ship. .

Tape or staple the blue poster board at the bottom edge of the cardboard around the entire base diameter to look like water.

Tape the blue streamers on the blue cardboard on the bottom rear side of the base to look like the ship’s wake.

Decorating the Float

Fold the sheet into a right triangle and attach to the flagpole. Place flagpole in the middle of the base, and this will be your ship’s mast.

Attach netting and any other props, like a cannon or an anchor, to the float.

Wear pirate, sailor or captain costumes to complete the float.

Tips & Warnings

  • For a more durable float on a flatbed trailer, use wood instead of cardboard.
  • All items can be downscaled to use a golf cart or small tractor.
  • Some people place cherubs or mermaid figures at the "bow" of the ship.
  • If you plan to throw out candy or beads, use gummy fish or gold beads to look like they're from a treasure chest.
  • If there are too many people to ride on the float, have others dressed like mermaids, fish or sharks walk alongside it on the parade route.

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