HomeWhy You Should Get Your Group On A Parade Float

brodymcd's picture

This is the story of how my a cappella group ended up rolling down main street on a parade float, singing on our PA system with a portable generator.

As the high school choir director, it sometimes seems difficult to find ways to reach the community on a large scale. Unlike the band, we aren't marching around under the Friday-night lights. Sure... the athletic department will let us sing the national anthem once in a while, but how  can we REALLY get our music out there?

Kettering has a Labor Day parade called “Holiday at Home.” After years of watching the parade go by from the choir-booster hot-dog stand, we decided to get in on the action. A little lumber, a dad with a truck and trailer, a generator rental from Lowe's and we were part of the parade.

I can't recommend this more highly. What a treat to hear a cappella coming down the street on a PA. The crowd eats it up, and your group will get tons of exposure. You can even have friends of the group hand out fliers for your next concert or CD order forms.

Benefits of the float:

  • Publicity for your program
  • Hand out fliers for concerts or CD sales
  • FUN for the kids
  • Recruit for your program
  • Generate future gigs (community clubs like Rotary, Lion's Club, etc. all have members at the parade)
     

Things to remember:

  • Make sure you have a rain plan. In fact, have it ready even if it isn't going to rain. One year, sprinklers went off near our float and our gear got wet. Keep trash bags and tarps at the ready.
  • You will need a generator for power. You can rent them easily enough. We put ours in the bed of the pickup, not on the float. The PA system will drown out the motor noise, but your singers want to hear the monitors (and that generator gets hot).
  • Test everything in advance, including riding around with your singers. The first time we did it, we learned the hard way we needed sturdier hand rails (no one was hurt, it was funny). Doing a dry run in a parking lot will keep everyone safe on parade day, and allow you to set the PA levels. You won't be able to get much of a read as you are running the sound board from the truck as the parade moves along.


After our first float appearance, we immediately heard “You're doing that again next year, right?” This year marked our third go-round and we will keep the tradition going. Not only do we get exposure from the parade route, but we now have become part of the entertainment at the nearby craft festival. After the parade is over, we just drive straight to the gig and park – the float is an instant stage.

There are lots of fall festivals still to come, so get out there and give it a go – the hardest part is doing the constant “princess wave” to the crowd while you sing.

Comments

Great idea!

-- ESPECIALLY the "test everything in advance" part! ...now I'm going to go harass my old high school choir director about this.

-Joseph Livesey | Fermata Nowhere | SoundStage

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