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How I Made A Huge Jukebox Float For The White Elephant Parade

Updated on August 21, 2016

My Plan For A Jukebox Float

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This illustration was submitted with the application to participate. The director told me it was the most detailed application they received!
This illustration was submitted with the application to participate. The director told me it was the most detailed application they received!
This illustration was submitted with the application to participate. The director told me it was the most detailed application they received! | Source

Planning A Float

It was difficult to plan the float theme until we knew what the parade's theme was going to be. Since our float would be judged, we had to wait to commit to a plan that would fit the theme. When we first started brainstorming we researched themes on Pinterest, float websites and how to bring power to a float for music and lights should we choose to go that route.

There are many different sites with float plans, but many of them are just trying to sell you a float kit. These can be very expensive and won't hold up year after year. Supplies to make a float should be planned to be used for one or two years at the most. Temporary fasteners like zip ties should also be considered. Try to get things donated, buy at thrift stores or use what you have on hand. In the end, seeking the help of the community around you will help make friends and raise awareness for the event, too.

I only had a budget of $300 so I immediately listed the things I felt I would need. I started in August for a float due in October. I started shopping, asking for help, posting on social media to raise awareness of my project and securing the trailer. Luckily, some of my friends had done this project in years past so I was not alone. When I asked an elder for advice about my project, she said: "Don't Forget to Delegate!" Being a good leader means asking for helping hands and resources when you need them.

Cut Your Pieces

  1. Cut 2 plywood fronts. Leave a half moon window for the bubbles to blow through.
  2. Cut 2x4s in even lengths with the pallet. They will brace your plywood fronts.
  3. Assemble using deck screws. Bolt plywood fronts to pallet, join with plywood pieces and screw together.
  4. Paint structure with OOPS paint from hardware store or Walmart.

Things You Will Need For A Huge Juke Box

  • 2 Plywood Sheets, 7/16 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.
  • 2 2x4 Wood Studs, 2 in. x 3 in. x 96 in.
  • 1 Box #10 3 in. Star Flat-Head Wood Deck Screws, 1 lb.
  • OOPS Paint Any Color, 1 Gallon
  • 3 Paintbrushes, Large, Medium, Small
  • 1 Sawsall or Reciprocating Saw, With Demolition Reciprocating Saw Blade
  • 1 Goggles, Safety Eyewear
  • 1 Pair Gloves, Protect your hands!
  • 1 Wood Shipping Pallet, For The Base

Outlining The Design

My son helped me paint the base coat on all the pieces, Then we sketched out the design with chalk. Painter's Tape is a good guide for even lines.
My son helped me paint the base coat on all the pieces, Then we sketched out the design with chalk. Painter's Tape is a good guide for even lines. | Source

JukeBox Front & Back

Front & Back sides of a huge plywood jukebox pre-paintjob built for the White Elephant Parade in Green Valley, AZ 2014.
Front & Back sides of a huge plywood jukebox pre-paintjob built for the White Elephant Parade in Green Valley, AZ 2014. | Source
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Have You Ever Participated In A Parade?

What kind of parade have you participated in?

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The Annual Country Fair White Elephant Parade in Green Valley, AZ

In the Green Valley/Sahuarita, AZ area we have a thrift store which has been around for 50 years. This year marks its fiftieth year, in fact. They host a parade each autumn that draws about 100 floats. Each float is by a different organization or club. Most people who build the floats are volunteers. This year's theme was "Celebrating Fifty Years Of Service". As the head of my club's float committee, I chose to do a Fifties theme to highlight the Fifty years of service. I realize it may seem odd to some when you count back 50 years it started in the 60s, but I chose this theme so that our organization could parlay the supplies into a school sock hop next year. Hopefully the planning for this year's needs will be useful for a long time!

My biggest challenge doing this project is that there is very little on the internet from years past. Hardly any pictures are posted from previous years, previous winners or the organizations that participate. For such a large local event, it seems even our small community would have more news on it. This year, I will document my own project and the parade event so that in the coming years, participants will have something to look back on as a point of reference.

Our local paper is the Green Valley Sun and they do a little story on the parade to help advertise it but the coverage is usually not very extensive. They usually hi light the building process of one club's float and have a follow-up on the event but they don't publish very many photos.

Most organizations, clubs & committees choose to participate in the parade because it directly correlates with a grant that is awarded. Non-Profits in the area like to try to augment their budgets for the year with the grant money. Participants also receive a trophy that is a mantle piece sized ceramic white elephant.

How To Enter The White Elephant Parade

The Application Process Is Easy if you're already in the system, If you want to participate next year then contact the White Elephant for more information.
The Application Process Is Easy if you're already in the system, If you want to participate next year then contact the White Elephant for more information. | Source

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together!

Making a color diagram will help people stay focused on the design and clear up questions as the build progresses.
Making a color diagram will help people stay focused on the design and clear up questions as the build progresses. | Source

Other Things You Will Need: 2-3 weeks out

Skirt
Festooning
Media
Participants
Table Skirt
Bunting
Boom Box & Music
Uniforms
Pennants
Paper Fans, Foil Stars
Bubble Machine
Seating or Walking
Banners
Records, Music Notes
Inverter
Handouts: Candy and/or marketing materials

Embellishment Supplies

Assorted Supplies New & Thrift. Don't forget your elephants! (It's an unspoken rule for the White Elephant Parade).
Assorted Supplies New & Thrift. Don't forget your elephants! (It's an unspoken rule for the White Elephant Parade). | Source

What Will Your Participants Uniforms Be?

I made shirts for boys & men in a style from Grease. I ordered Wayfarer glasses, too.
I made shirts for boys & men in a style from Grease. I ordered Wayfarer glasses, too. | Source

Give Yourself A Lot Of Time And Ask For Help

Have a party at your house or organization headquarters to create the items you will need for festooning your float. Dedciate areas to paint, cut, glue, sew or prefabricate the items you will be using. That way your construction will be finished the night before and with minor repairs/detail work on the day of the float. Discuss where you will be staging your float. Make maps to give to your friends and take down a phone/email list for communication.

Event Day!

On the day of the event make sure to have your list of contacts. Be ready to provide snacks and water to your participants. Make sure you have sunscreen on hand.

For our fifties themed float, I ordered all participants sunglasses. Cat Eye style for women and girls plus Wayfarers for men and boys. We had shirts made to match our theme and we handed out candy leftover from the school's Trunk Or Treat the night before.

A Video From The White Elephant Parade

Musicals, Parades & Dances Are all Great Reasons To Make A HUGE Jukebox

Whether your school is having a sock hop or your church or organization is participating in a local parade like me, a giant jukebox is a fun way to celebrate with a fifties theme. Mid-century pop culture was all about cars, drive-ins, music and teenage freedom. Musicals and movies like Grease or classics like American Graffiti are great examples of the nostalgia many feel toward this time. There are plenty of little details that are available for a 50s themed party but for a true focal point and a great photo op, a huge jukebox fits the bill. You can make it blow bubbles or play music from a giant boom box inside of it.

My plan for an oversized jukebox is great for any skill level of crafter. You don't need to be an expert carpenter to make this. However, a touch of imagination and artsy creativity does help! I hope of you have an event to plan for you will find my guide helpful and inspiring.

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