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Basics of Event Planning | Planning a Parade


Parades are an exciting and fun way to celebrate town pride, an upcoming event, or whatever you want! As fun as they are, there is a lot that goes into planning a parade. With diligent planning and a good deal of foresight, your parade can be a mix of marching bands, fun music, festival queens, floats, and even an explosion of parade confetti! A well-planned parade is carefully blended to please both the eye and the ear, and avoids the pitfalls of a poorly executed event.

To continue our series on the basics of event planning, we’ve broken down parade planning into 10 basic steps. Follow these, and you’ll plan the parade of your dreams!

1. Select a Committee

Your committee is the most important thing when getting started planning your parade. They’ll help you pick the best music, an awesome theme, get the proper permits, and even help you sort out what attractions your parade will have.

It’s important to select people that are not only very enthusiastic and high-energy, but people who also have a knack for organization. With their help, you’ll be able to settle on a budget, covering costs for everything from paying bands to advertisement costs to decorations and Flutter FETTI parade confetti.

2. Pick a Theme & Parade Marshal

What’s the special occasion? Are you planning a Fourth of July parade? A memorial parade? Or a Pride parade? Whatever your event, it’s important to pick a theme that puts a fresh twist on it. Not only will this make your parade more memorable and intriguing, different themes will attract different sponsors, volunteers, entertainment, and audiences. It’ll also determine what will be featured in your parade: floats, marching bands, animals, etc. The possibilities are endless when you pick the right theme! When planning your parade, keep in mind what you’re looking to celebrate, and then brainstorm your best ideas with your committee.

You’ll also have to pick a parade marshal. Who would best define your theme, as well as the event for which you’re throwing your parade? Is it a local fire department? Or perhaps the mayor and their family? Or will you be inviting a local celebrity or choosing a local hero to honor? Whoever your marshal is, be sure to ask them well in advance to make sure they are available and open to marshalling your parade.

3. Meet with Local Police Officers, Firefighters, and Public Works Departments

The next step in planning a parade is to acquire the necessary permits. It’s also a good idea to get in contact with local police and firefighters to arrange for street closures, as well as arrange for medical, safety, and security concerns. You’ll also likely need to discuss sponsorships, publicity, entries, and registration. Getting all these things done early ensures smooth riding down the road, and mitigates any last-minute panic.

4. Set Up Entry Guidelines and Deadlines

You and your parade committee will want to decide exactly what you want featured in your parade, depending on your theme and the event for which you’re planning a parade. You’ll want to be specific in your guidelines – for instance, floats entered in the Rose Parade must be entirely covered in plant-based substances. You might not want to be as strict as that, but guidelines will help make sure you get the best possible entries!

You’ll also want to make sure to set the deadline so you have enough time to not only review the entry, but to create a lineup that makes sense. Be sure to advertise the deadlines wide and far, so you get as many entries as you can.

5. Organize Volunteer Support

The volunteer element in any parade planning is especially important! Work with your committee to understand exactly what jobs need to be filled by volunteers – whether it’s crowd control, handing out fliers, or cleanup – and organize your crews early. This gives volunteers plenty of time to clear their schedule, and will allow you to sit back and relax during the actual parade, knowing everything is being taken care of.

6. Pick Your Lineup

Once you’ve got all your entries, go through each and pick what matches your theme best. Take your time with this step! This is what all your hard work comes down to: making sure you’ve created the most cohesive and exciting parade.

Big, exciting banners, police and firefighter cars with sirens blaring, showy bands, and even using Flutter FETTI parade confetti and streamers are great ways to introduce the excitement that is to come. Make sure to not place two similar entries too close to one another, and keep noisy entries away from animals. A good thing to keep in mind is that marching entries generally don’t like to follow horses – horse entries should be towards the end, with a cleanup crew following to sweep away messes.

Once you’ve got your lineup, take a step back. Does it “look” right? Once you’re sure you’ve got the best possible lineup, organize your groups and send out lineup information to your entries.

7. Organize Other Attractions

Make your parade an all-day event! Include food stalls, face painting, petting zoos, or any number of fun festival attractions. This will not only draw a larger crowd, but it’ll draw more attention, sponsorship, and a larger possibility for future parades. Planning something as fun and interactive as possible is your ultimate goals, after all – why not go even further?

 8. End on Something Huge

The grand finale to your parade will make or break it. You’ll, of course, have interesting attractions throughout your parade, but be sure to plan something huge for your finale! Sparklers, a huge dance number, streamers, an explosion of Flutter FETTI parade confetti – using one of our 3” or 6” Gerb Continuous Flow Launchers which blow a pound of Flutter FETTI up to 75’-100’ into the air. These are all great options to leave your parade-goers in awe and excited for the next parade you’ll plan.

9. The Night Before

The night before the big day, gather up as many volunteers as possible to make everything go smoothly. You’ll want to set up starting places for all your parade entries, make sure there are no issues with your route, and check on all the attractions you planned for. Set up guides for parking, signs to restrooms, and arrows leading to the different booths or stalls set up along the parade route. Make sure everything is visible and clear – this will help prevent day-of panic and chaos!

10. Have a Plan B

Things go wrong all the time when planning a parade! There could be a change in the weather, there could be construction, and any other host of unplanned for emergencies. Always plan for a rain-or-shine parade, but be sure to prepare a contingency plan for extreme heat, cold, or other weather. Be sure to have established a strong working relationship with ll the stakeholders, in case you need to reschedule. Clear lines of communication are essential not only during the parade planning stages, but also in the event that something goes wrong. Having clear emergency plans set up will help eliminate anxiety, because you know what to do no matter what.

Well, there you have it! All you need to plan a successful parade is outlined right here – from beginning to end. Here at Flutter FETTI, we’re all about making event planning as clear and straightforward as possible.

We get it; planning a parade is really hard work. So much goes into it! But have no fear: stick to this list, and you’ll have a magical parade in no time. For the most amazing parade confetti and streamers for an awesome parade kickoff or an unforgettable grand finale, contact us at Flutter FETTI! We’re here to make every moment magical.

WARNING: Do not point, flick, or fling toward anyone when using our launchers.

Some Flutter FETTI products when saturated with any liquid and under pressure may bleed color, and Flutter FETTI® cannot guarantee or warranty that it will not do so. If any liquid will or may be present at an event, please consult with us so we can assist you in choosing water-safe FETTI® products.

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