According to Ray Pulver, Upbeat Parade Productions owner and CalFest president, the three main objectives of a parade are to:
- Bring people together
- Market your community
- Create an economic impact
If you’re tasked with planning your agency’s parade entry—or the entire parade—here are several tips and some parade giveaway ideas to help you succeed.
- Determine logistics: When is your parade? What are you trying to achieve? How big will it be? Who will attend? By answering these simple questions, you can choose the right date, assemble a timeline, map your route and more. Establish your budget up front. Don’t forget to take advertising and promotion, permits and security into account. And be sure to include the perfect parade giveaway. Choose something that goes with the theme of the parade, is useful to spectators and that represents your brand or agency. For instance, a maple leaf pen, pair of sunglasses or jar opener are easy giveaway options.
- Form a committee: Assemble a committee of volunteers to take care of the details, including selecting a theme, organizing volunteer support and securing parade participants. Your agency employees, networking groups and the local chamber of commerce are great places to look for committee volunteers. Don’t forget to thank them for their help. Give each member a folding chair. Imprint a meaningful message like VIPP—Very Important Parade Planner—to show how much you value their contribution.
- Secure sponsorships: Parade sponsorships are a valuable fundraising source, and they help local businesses establish credibility, maintain a positive brand image, increase brand awareness and connect with the community. Help your sponsors by marching their name all around town—include their logo on parade banners, committee gifts, your website, printed materials and more. Give them exclusive giveaway rights, too. For instance, your top sponsors get their logo on grab bags to hold everyone’s candy, handouts and other parade giveaways.
- Consider a competition: A little competition can up your parade game in a big way. Contest ideas include best float, most creative walking group, favourite band, cutest four-legged walker and best parade giveaway. Encourage community members to vote on your website or at your agency. Winners in each category take home a prize ribbon and bragging rights.
- Roll with the punches: Parade day can be unpredictable, so have plans in place for rain, extreme heat or cold, route changes or an unexpected emergency. Make sure to keep lines of communication open with your Grand Marshal, committee members, parade planners and other stakeholders. Rain ponchos, hand fans and Hand Warmers are great giveaways that can really save the day!
Whether you’re planning an entire parade or participating with your agency or department, we hope these tips and parade giveaway ideas get you marching in the right direction. Good luck!