Parade Mini-float

This year I decided on the adventure of creating a mini-float for the Park Ridge Memorial Day parade. Last year we used the Bob-mobile which worked quite well but wasn’t quite appropriate for an event honoring veterans. Captain David Martinez came up with posters “Donuts to Diapers” linking The Salvation Army’s service during WW1 with our present local service. But I wanted to do more.

I spotted a photo of a float by the Victory Bible Church in Hammonton, NJ, and instantly wanted to recreate it for Breakfast with Baby. Thing is, we don’t have a flatbed trailer nor would we ever have room to store one. What to do?

Ha! What else? I researched floats built on U-Haul trailers. Hmm, the longest was a 6 ft by 12 ft utility trailer. Well, I just needed to scale down the VBC float to 12 feet.

The problem or the privilege of dreams is that they rarely come true by just wishing on a star (sorry, Mr. Disney). I asked almost every man I knew if he could help me build a float. Actually I asked if they could create the platform inside the utility trailer. It would need to be easy to lift, come in pieces for assembly and disassembly, and yes, I wanted to be able to use it again next year. Yes, I might want people to stand on it – not this year but maybe next year.

Rick Vogeney is a visionary kind of guy and proved to be extremely handy with lumber and joist hinges. He also did a great approximation of the front of the VBC float.

While Rick did the guts and struts of the mini-float, I still needed someone willing to work with a saw and paint to create the field of crosses which would be the heart of our parade entry. I turned to a local veteran active in the American Legion, Ryan Flurkey, for help. Ryan had me contact the local A.L. post but they were too busy with their own plans for Memorial Day, sorry.

So, back to Ryan I went. I offered to cover the costs if he would buy the lumber and paint. Thank God, he was agreeable! He even enlisted his girlfriend Tegan as a partner in painting. Not only did they craft and paint the crosses, but the green supports and blue frame and braces.

On a very hot day Rick and his son Ben put together the float and decorated it. I supplied the green floral sheeting, the armed service flags, the skirting, and the banners. Party City had a great deal on the sheeting. I bought table skirting instead of the normal float fringe to keep costs down.

I confess I felt quite proud looking out the chapel window Sunday morning. There in the parking the flags were blowing in the breeze, sunlight glittering off the plastic grass. I had high hopes.

Monday morning, the Breakfast with Baby volunteers gathered in the parking lot. Bob Barth and Denise Ambrose got ready to drive The Salvation Army van which would pull the float over to Park Ridge. Captain Martinez wiped the last bit of dust off the van. I took lots of pictures and went home, envious of those taking part.

Then it happened. I received my first photos from the parade via Facebook Messenger. The impact of the wind had been too much and the frame snapped. It wasn’t until much, much later when we met the float on its return to Des Plaines that I realized how these intrepid folk had dealt with the situation. They had carried the individual pieces of the float!

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