Build a Float for the Parade Of The Arts

There are a lot of things that can be done at the last minute -- cramming for tests, writing articles, buying birthday presents, and building a float for this weekend's 5th Phoenix Annual Parade Of The Arts in downtown Phoenix.

While float-building on a large, fancy scale can take a few weeks-worth of work, our time table is a little shorter (the parade's on Saturday). Luckily for all you slacker float builders, there's no deadline for getting a float into the parade; if you can whip up something between now and sundown on Saturday, you're golden.

We talked to Phoenix poet, crafts-maker, and Open Artory organizer Jason Alan Davis, who's currently working on a spaceship float at the Firehouse. He gave us a few tips on how to go about building a parade float within limited means and time. Davis says his Spaceship Phx float is about halfway finished, and its construction has only put him back $30.

Instructions, hints and parade details after the jump ...

1. Build a model. Build small before you try to build big. (This year's theme is "Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow," -- but don't feel obligated to reflect the theme in your float.)

2: Draw up a plan for building the float. You're going to probably use the same steps you used to build the model float to bring the float itself into existence, so pay close attention to how you built that small model.

4. Figure out how you're going to get rid of it when you're done with the float. This will influence the kind of materials you'll use to build the float in the first place. Like cardboard, or nylon ropes made out of plastic bags. Recyclable materials are relatively easy to scrounge up, cost little to assemble, and can be broken down simply.

Hint: Cardboard is your friend. Find cardboard that is thick, un-dented, and free of food and water stains. Cardboard that is properly treated is an excellent material for building a float. Using tape, cleaning up the edges of the cardboard, string wove through the cardboard, and other pieces of cardboard glued on to reinforce the material can help compensate for weight. Weight is crucial: you're going to be rolling this thing through streets crowded with people, you've got to be sure the float isn't going to collapse because it isn't properly reinforced.

5. Get something to roll it on, be it a shopping cart, a dolly, a pushcart, etc., and take the float for a test drive.

6. Wheel it, walk it, or drive it down to the parade, which is headquartered at 5th Street, between Roosevelt and Garfield Streets (Hint: Park North of Roosevelt). The Parade starts at sundown, which means you still have time to fill up on pie before heading out, with your float of course. For more information, visit the parade website.

The organizers for P.A.P.A. also have some helpful tips on how to build a float on their website.

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Ashley Naftule