A float is a decorated platform, either built on a vehicle like a truck or towed behind one, which is a component of many festive parades, such as those of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Carnival of Viareggio, the Maltese Carnival, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Key West Fantasy Fest parade, the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the 500 Festival Parade in Indianapolis, the United States Presidential Inaugural Parade, and the Tournament of Roses Parade. For the latter event, floats are decorated entirely in flowers or other plant material.
Parade floats were first introduced in the Middle Ages when churches used pageant wagons as movable scenery for passion plays. Artisan guilds were responsible for building the pageant wagons for their specified craft. The wagons were pulled throughout the town, most notably during Corpus Christi in which up to 48 wagons were used, one for each play in the Corpus Christi cycle.
The largest float ever exhibited in a parade was a 116-foot-long (35 m) entry in the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade that featured Tillman the skateboarding bulldog (and some of his friends) surfing in an 80-foot-long (24 m) ocean of water. The water tank held over 6,600 US gallons (25,000 l; 5,500 imp gal) on a float weighing more than 100,000 pounds (45,000 kg). It broke the previous record for the longest single-chassis parade float, which was set in 2010 by the same sponsor.
The dogs trained for three months prior to the float's debut at the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2, 2012. A specially designed “wave” machine was incorporated into the design of the float which created a wave every minute.
Tournament of Roses
Members of Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club first staged the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1890. Many of the members of the Valley Hunt Club were former residents of the American East and Midwest. They wished to showcase their new California homes' mild winter weather. At a club meeting, Professor Charles F. Holder announced, "In New York, people are buried in the snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."
And so the Club organized horse-drawn carriages covered in flowers, followed by foot races, polo matches, and a game of tug-of-war on the town lot. They attracted a crowd of 2000 to the event. Upon seeing the scores of flowers on display, the Professor decided to suggest the name "Tournament of Roses."
Battle of Flowers
The Battle of Flowers parade in San Antonio, Texas is the only parade in the United States produced entirely by women, all of whom are volunteers. The parade is the oldest event and largest parade of Fiesta San Antonio. The original purpose of the parade was to honor the heroes of the Alamo. In keeping with this tradition, participants are asked to place a flower tribute on the lawn of the Alamo as they pass by.
Dutch flower parades
In the Netherlands, flower parades (called 'Bloemencorso') are a popular tradition. The small country holds some 30 parades, large and small. The world's largest flower parade is held every year in Zundert, a small town in the south of the Netherlands. In Zundert, and most other Dutch parades, floats are built entirely by volunteers, where hamlets compete with each other to build the most beautiful float, judged by an independent jury. Most Dutch flower parades are held in August and September and use mainly dahlia flowers. The dahlia fields are kept by volunteers as well.
Floats in popular culture
The climax of the movie Animal House features the protagonists from the title fraternity surreptitiously launching their own float into a parade featuring legitimate entries from many of their rivals. The illicit float, in the form of a giant decorated cake adorned with the words "Eat Me," later splits open to reveal the parade-destroying "Deathmobile" inside.
- Lovemobile, a specific float with a sound equipment, a DJ or other live act and dancers, which is used as a central element at technoparades
- Tournament of Roses floats
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- Staff (2012). "Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc". 2012 Rose Parade. Tournament of Roses Association. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- Staff. "Longest Single-Chassis Parade Float". Guinness World Records. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- "Fiesta SA: The Battle of Flowers Parade...Where Fiesta Began". The Battle of Flowers Association. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- "Battle of Flowers". Battle of Flowers Parade. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- "Battle of Flowers". Battle of Flowers Parade. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
- "Fiesta SA: The Battle of Flowers Parade...Where Fiesta Began". The Battle of Flowers Association. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
- "Incredible New Floats at Zundert Flower Parade 2013". Retrieved 2013-11-13.