Congratulations on your group having been invited to represent your community!
Considerations for participating in a parade . . .
Most parade organizers will provide clear instructions, call times, area maps and preferred viewing areas. Be sure that you share all information, in particular with parents that will be dropping off and picking up their children. Share contact information of who the parent/chaperones that will be traveling with the parade are and how to best reach them—call or text. Have a plan in place to ‘check-in’ and ‘check-out’ minors.
Your group may be required to sign waivers of liability and you will want to ensure that your group members are covered by your own insurance via a rider certificate. Know ahead of time who will be responsible for this detail.
Will the organizers be providing the float or will your group be a marching entry?
If yes, and you will be on a float, please ensure that safety features are provided if you are expected to dance, stand or sit. If you are on a float, then by all means use your dance shoes. Normally, there are periods when the parade will stop for a reviewing stand when it is safe to start a dance. If dancers will be standing, they will need a grip bar or something to hang onto for sudden starts and stops.
If the parade is providing the float, it’s usually because a corporation or organization has their name on it. Ensure that your group banner, logo or other identifying brand is also part of the float design.
If a float is not provided and you will be marching, it’s understandable to give your dancers the option to change into dance tennis or other comfortable shoes. Parents with decorated wagons might parade alongside with water or Gatorade.
Sometimes, the parade entries are part of a competition in which you will be judged for either your float or marching entry. It can be great fun if you have a support team of group members to help out with each task.
In either case . . .
Be aware that bathroom stops are practically non-existent—so ensure that everyone visits the restroom before starting the parade. A diligent parent might scout ahead for a half-way opportunity for those in need.
If full sun is expected, select a region in which both men and women can sport a hat and be sure to sunscreen all of your dancers early.
Select material that can be choreographed in a forward moving fashion so that you are not holding up the rest of the parade with your dance.
What type of sound will accompany your group? Will it be canned? Who is providing the sound system and how will you power it? Will there be live music? If yes, you will want to coordinate specific pieces within their set that your dancers can accompany.
Other considerations might include your placement within the parade:
If you are behind horses for example; they might be required to have poop bags or they may not. Yikes!
If you are near a huge marching band, will your music be loud enough for your dancers to hear.
Maximize your experience . . .
Most parade organizers issue an invitation and/or your apply to participate. Rarely, is it a contract or paid gig. Still, there are ways in which you can leverage your participation to ensure maximum impact by planning ahead.
If you are building your own float, be sure to document the process with photos and video clips that you can share on social media. Designate a few street corners or addresses for your family, friends and supporters to gather and give your dancers vocal support throughout the parade route. Shout it from the rooftops and invite your favorite media reporters to cover it. You can help them by drafting a press release well in advance. You can even solicit support from your chamber or local businesses by offering to include them in your press release and social media as parade entry supporters.
Cover the event in progress and set up your social media handles to support all platforms: Livestream, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinpoint, CheckMe etc.
Gather all your media for a pizza after party and instant replay for your dancers to once again view their success and group bond.
Please note: This blog post will be a work-in-progress as we accept advice and information from our community. Please submit your parade photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Gracias.