Summer is here, the outdoor festivals have begun and the parades are on the move.
Parades can go year round, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas but the summer seems to bring parades of all kinds, not just for a specific holiday. Communities will have a parade and festival centered around a specific crop for which the town is know; a potato festival in Idaho, an Apple Festival in Washington or even a nautical parade in a town for where boating is popular. Theses types of parades often have a queen that is chosen to reign over the festivities and gets to ride the float in the local parade. Local clubs and organizations, school marching bands and local business often join in with a float or crew of people marching in the parade. Clowns bring a welcome splash of color and fun to a parade and what I great opportunity to get your clown group or business know among the community.
How to get involved:
One must find out who is heading up the parade, often starting at the city or town hall will get you the answer. Even if the city proper is not hosting the parade, permits must be acquired for a parade route and the city or town hall is where that most likely will transpire. Once you find out who is in charge, contact them to express your interest in joining the parade. In my many years of parade involvement, the only time where clowns were not allowed was a Memorial day parade. The town wanted to focus on honoring the military and felt the clown group was not part of that intent. However, we were treated very kindly and invited to join the 4th of July parade that year.
How does this help clowning?
Not only will a clown troupe marching in a parade bring a smile to the crowd, this also is a good advertisement for your clown alley, club or clown business. Having a banner with your group name is a great way to promote, whether carried by some clowns or posted on a vehicle driven in the parade, your name is there for all to see. If there is a festival or event that coincides with the parade, get involved with the event to show your support of the community. Whether you have a booth for balloons and face painting for profit or your club donates a show for free, walking the parade can be the perfect vehicle to encourage people to come find you at the aforementioned festivities.
What to do?
You have been excepted into the parade line up so now what do you do? Besides walking and waving or riding on a float there are so many possibilities. Handing out candy seems to have been discouraged by many parade coordinators and that may be a good thing. Kids scurrying around the street to pick up candy in a parade route can be dangerous. Clowns blowing bubbles, walking around with puppets, invisible dog on a leash or other wacky props work well. Doing a skit is difficult for a parade route but a little juggling or plate spinning can fit nicely. The idea is of course keep your group flowing with the rest of the parade, if members of your group have difficulty walking it is best they ride along in a vehicle or float. Being “that group” which causes the parade to lag is a sure fire way not to be invited back. With the parade permit, a time frame is attached and the town expects the parade organizers to adhere to the agreed upon length of the parade so that normal traffic flow can be restored promptly.
Remember to stay hydrated, we wouldn’t want any clowns down for the count from heat exhaustion or dehydration. Have a plan to get your clowns safely back to their vehicles after the parade. Be courteous guests, don’t interfere with a neighboring group while walking the route, they want there moment to shine as well. If another parade group wants to have you clown around with them, by all means do so, just make sure that they are willing participants. Interacting with the crowd and getting them to cheer is an easy way to stand out as a fun group.
So be safe and have fun while you spread the clown message of love along the way.