Arts & Culture

Creative 4th of July Parade Float Ideas

June 16, 2014 8:00 AM

Fourth of July parades take place all across the country and signify not only our collective patriotism, but also local pride. Homemade floats abound and are as unique and individual as the spirit that carved out our country. A red, white and blue motif is clearly de rigueur, but imaginative themes and creative touches can make any float stand apart from the rest. Here are three ideas to help spark your imagination this Fourth.

Think Local

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Anyone can pop a Golden Gate Bridge or Statue of Liberty onto a float and claim state pride, but consider taking your creation one step further by going granular. Recreate a local street or nearby landmark that resonates with your immediate community, and have your neighbors and local school kids join the fun as both builders and participants. If you are portraying a landmark of historical significance, use the parade as a teaching moment by passing out educational flyers. If you are highlighting instead an area of commerce, have the merchants whose stores are included offer free samples of their wares to parade-goers.

Go (Historically) Retro

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Pick your favorite era from American history or celebrate our country’s beginnings by having your float participants don easily-identifiable period costumes that are either true to form or lovingly-crafted as caricatures. If your float is large enough to accommodate all seven Founding Fathers, make sure to have a copy of the Constitution on hand and to save a seat for Betsy Ross. Not a U.S. history buff? Consider portraying your local culture or industry instead, such as featuring the history of automobiles if you live in Detroit or country music stars if you herald from Nashville. 

Pay Homage to Your Favorite Secret Pleasure

Photo Credit MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

Photo Credit MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

Can’t live without Game of Thrones, Twilight or Madmen? Then you’ve got the makings for a very interesting float. Decorate your float to resemble an easily-identifiable set from television or the movies and dress up the characters with Fourth of July flair. Think red, white and blue dragons, a sparkly stars and striped outfit for the dogs, or a vampire dressed up like George Washington. You can also play it straight and recreate a book you loved as a child, Cat and the Hat donning an Uncle Sam hat, or portray a well-loved favorite such as the Wizard of Oz.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at

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