Thinking about building a float to advertise your church or Vacation Bible School program? It can be a great way to promote an event, but make sure you Count the Cost before you begin. Also, check out these four helpful tips:
Arrive on time, not before
Our parade started at 2:00, which meant line up started at 1:00PM. I told the kids to get there somewhere between 1 and 2:00. Of course, they all showed up pretty much at 1:00. Which meant they had an HOUR to get in the float, get their costumes on and…. wait. The parade did start on time, but since we were float #46, we did not actually start moving until about 2:30. That is a LONG wait for kids, especially on a hot sunny day. So, either request to be at the start of the parade (and even then, only have kids come 15 minutes before take off time) or ask where you are in the line up and change the kids’ report time accordingly.
Have kids hand out flyers
Both parents and kids were much more receptive to taking a flyer about our Vacation Bible School program (which we call “The Big Event”) from kids/preteens than they were for adults. Not that anyone was really unfriendly, but the kids seemed to really line up to get flyers from other kids. Use this little fact to your advantage!
Bring water and sunscreen
Pretty much as soon as the kids arrived, they were thirsty. (Or was that as soon as they saw someone else with a water bottle?) Last year, I got the mini water bottles which worked great . I couldn’t find them this year — bummer. I did however, bring a sharpie and mark the lids for everyone’s bottle. Of course, we still ended up with 14 half empty (or half full?) bottles of water. You gotta keep them hydrated though!
Also, be sure to bring sunscreen (SPF30+) and reapply even if the kids say they’ve been slathered up already. You do not want some little lobster child crawling off the float and having an angry parent to deal with. Just play it safe and put on another layer of protection.
Leave the candy-throwing to the adults
This was a huge problem we had last year. Children have little discretion. They do not realize the parade route is longer than the two feet in front of them. They are just excited to be throwing mounds of candy at other kids. Throwing quickly. Last year, we ran out of candy about 3/4 of the way through. Oops. Very disappointing for the end of the route kids and not exactly the best image for our church. This year, I explained only the adults could throw candy.
As it turns out, our kind-hearted adult volunteers just couldn’t bear to see the kids riding along with nothing to do (I told them to wave, isn’t that enough?). So they started handing them candy, one piece at a time. Good in theory. Not so good when you have twelve kids screaming for another piece of candy to throw. Just keep it simple. Fill up buckets with candy, hand them to adults. If kids are bored on the float, it’s probably because they watch too much television, and really, you can’t be held accountable for that. 🙂
Well, hope it helps!