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Our 2024 Parade Concept!

We've participated in the Santa Clarita Valley's Independence Day Parade ever since Damian's diagnosis. In fact, when I decided I was going to do "whatever it takes" to raise the $3 million needed for developing treatment, the very first idea I had was to march in our city's parade.

That year (2021) the parade was cancelled in the Great Shutdown, but there was still a small, very unofficial car cavalcade that we participated in - I just put TONS of balloons and pennants and whatever I could get at the dollar store all over our car, along with big posters I strapped on that explained our mission (believe it or not, we did get some attention and donations from joining that humble little cavalcade!).

The next year though, they did the full parade and it was our moment to really get attention! I love our city's patriotic spirit and I love these kinds of parades (they're very nostalgic to me), but let's be honest - it's mostly made up of people advertising their local businesses or people running for office, all with similar decorations. Every once in awhile something comes down the street that stands out, but it's mostly lots of cars, lots of waving, and lots of candy.

My strategy from the beginning was to do something that would HOLD people's attention for more than a second and make them curious. I wanted to create something BIG, something different, and something that got kids excited - because when kids get excited, they point and say, "MOM, DAD, LOOK!" and they start talking about it.

I'm also a theme park designer, so... I can't help but go a little over-the-top.


Our motto for that first parade was "The Itsy Bitsy Spider never gives up - and neither will we!" Damian's very favorite song was on repeat as we marched down the parade route with a spider following a big blue "waterspout," and though I was very nervous about putting myself out there like that, and we definitely underestimated the number of flyers we should have printed, it still went over very well and we had a great outcome! (You can watch the vlog of that whole experience here)


Last year's motto was "Hungry for Treatment!" and I made a huge Very Hungry Caterpillar and some "food" for him to chase as we marched down the parade. I was so happy with the reaction from the crowd as we went - just as I'd hoped, every child had something to say about it as we walked down and Brock did a great job making sure the caterpillar got up close and personal with the most excited kids (he does have plenty of professional experience doing magical parades, after all).

Our caterpillar (which you all collectively named Humphrey!) was definitely a much stronger presentation than our first parade - we printed twice as many flyers, we had even more amazing volunteers who helped us the day of, and I learned a lot from watching people interact and get excited about our float and how it led to scanning our QR codes and getting curious about our campaign.


THIS YEAR will be our biggest endeavor yet so I'm carving out a whole month to get this one done (twice as much time as I spent on the previous parade floats).

Presenting... (drum roll, please!)

"Marching for Treatment!" or "Marching towards Treatment!" (I haven't fully decided on our motto yet!)

It's no secret my favorite animal is an elephant: I've always loved their strong majestic confidence, their silly playfulness, and their maternal nature and fierce protectiveness over their babies (all traits I aspire for, certainly).

I've maybe pushed my love for elephants onto Damian, whose favorite little snuggle mate for years was his elephant Wubbanub. Marching is also one of the things that elephants do best, so marching two elephants in our parade (a mama and her baby) just sounds EPIC.

So... how am I going to do it?? By using real elephants of course!

Just kidding. The real answer: by making a massive elephant puppet to put on Brock (of course!)

I've been getting a lot of inspiration from puppets made for theatrical productions of "The Lion King" and "Circus 1903" (check out this short puppet rehearsal video from the latter!) I can't tell you how excited I am to make this!!!

My goal is to make the big mama elephant (which will be puppeteered by Brock) as massive as possible while also being as lightweight as possible. Brock is just about as strong as they come, but this parade route is no joke, especially in the heat of July. I also need it to be able to be controlled just by Brock - not 3-4 people like in the broadway plays.

The baby elephant is going to be similar in size to what our Itsy Bitsy Spider was (and pushed around like a stroller), so you can understand why I'm going to definitely use the full month to make all this! The more I make things like this though, the more I learn best practices and shortcuts, so I'm hoping my time effectiveness is going to be a big improvement on last year.

Still, I've never made a 8-10 foot tall elephant puppet before so... I've gotta get to work!!!


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