Thanks to Mississippi Valley Montessori School for their support. They’re scheduling tours for the 2023-24 school year! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In an effort to get more people involved in the Explore West St. Paul Days parade, a group of local artists is hosting a ‘How to Parade’ clinic to offer tips and ideas for businesses and organizations thinking about participating in the parade. As added incentive, the city is offering a $500 prize for the best float.
In addition to the usual classic cars and trailers, last year’s Explore West St. Paul Days parade included several creative entries, including a walking version of the West St. Paul water tower.
“We got lots of shout outs and smiles and many people asking for selfies with the water tower!” said Carolyn Swiszcz, a local artist who created and wore the iconic water tower.
“I couldn’t believe how many people wanted their picture with the water tower,” said local designer Travis Olson. “It’s been a landmark for our kids and you could tell the same is true for many generations. It was also great to see a mile and a half of people enjoying themselves with neighbors.”
For last year’s parade, Olson led a group creating wearable cardboard versions of the mosaic sculpture from West St. Paul’s art park.
Swiszcz and Olson are part of the art park subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee that has supported various art projects in West St. Paul in the past few years. The group is known as WSP Art on Facebook, and this year hopes to get more groups involved in the parade.
How to Parade Clinic
What: WSP Art is hosting a ‘How to Parade ‘clinic to share inspiration, ideas, and know-how for building inexpensive floats, costumes, signs, and more for the parade.
When: Thursday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wentworth Library in the big meeting room
More info: Facebook event
The Parade Experience
What was your experience being in the parade last year?
- “As a relatively new resident of West St. Paul, we’ve only experienced one other West St. Paul parade,” said Olson. “Creating an entry and then building it with friends and neighbors was a good way to feel like we were a part of the city.”
- “I loved working with others on the parade costumes,” said Swiszcz. “It was fun to be outside building and painting. I got really excited when parade day arrived, I was so thrilled to debut what we had been quietly making, and marching the route was a blast.”
Why did you want to invest time and energy into the parade?
- “I love the problem solving and creativity of it,” said Olson. “Being able to make something with others is the main reward.”
- “I can walk to the parade from my house and it takes place on a street I drive on every day so I love seeing the transformation from an everyday setting to something festive and alive,” said Swiszcz. “I really want to do what I can to make this city even more interesting.”
What’s the benefit for a business or nonprofit?
- “It’s free advertising,” said Swiszcz. “If you have a good visual you’ll not only appeal to those on the parade route, you’ll leave a lasting impression with a social media audience as well.”
Making the 2023 Parade Even Better
With no parade in 2020 or 2021, bringing the parade back in 2022 was an uphill battle. The August date for Explore West St. Paul Days was after marching band season, which meant no bands in last year’s parade. This year the events have been moved to June and organizers are hopeful marching bands will return.
Downhill: “There was a gradual incline while traveling south on Charlton Street last year,” said organizer Sam Murphy. “Participants who were walking, rolling and dancing were getting a workout. This year the parade will switch directions and travel north.”
More tweaks: Organizers are also reducing fees, doing more outreach, moving the parade to the morning, and planning an event at Harmon Park immediately following the parade to keep the fun going.
Parade tip: “More candy!” Murphy said. “While units cannot throw candy from moving vehicles for safety reasons, we highly encourage folks on ground level pass out candy or fun promotional products.”
The Explore West St. Paul Days parade is on Saturday, June 10 at 10:30 a.m. Register online by May 31 (register before April 26 to save on entry fees).
The City of West St. Paul is offering a $500 prize for the best parade float, voted on by the crowd.
Attend the ‘How to Parade’ clinic on March 16 for help coming up with a creative parade entry.
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