27 November 2010

Lights. Camera. Brontothere.

What the...???? Read on....

I made it through high school and college without ever having to participate in making a parade float or even being in a parade. In the last 14 months, though, we have been in three parades, two of them involving a float, the most recent being tonight. This didn't involve the dreaded chicken wire and tissue paper, though. No, this involved a modified rhinoceros taxidermy form and a lot of talent and energy from our faculty, staff and students.

Remember this guy from September?

The brontothere we entered as our float in the university parade in September so charmed our administration that they asked us to re-enter it in the city's annual Parade of Lights, held to kick off the holiday season on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Obviously, this is a night-time parade and  lighting is critically important. Our curator agreed to take this on.

Sometime after that, we found that our brontothere would be not only the university's representative, but actually the Grand Marshal float leading the parade, with the university president and his wife riding on the float along with the university mascot. No pressure at all, right? Oh, and the lights had to be (we were told) LEDs. And we found out less than two weeks before the event.

Here's what we did.

First things first. By a unanimous vote, the brontothere's nose horns got red lights in honor of Rudolph. Everything else was negotiable. This was not.  

Then he was lifted onto the trailer once again, gently. The platform makes it possible for us to strap him securely to the trailer.

Net lights helped us negotiate his difficult shape rather ingeniously.

Don't you think the net lights give him a strong resemblance to Durer's rhinoceros?

They used lights to outline a panel on each side for the school banners.

And they used string lights to outline his head and legs.

Rudolph had NOTHIN' on our guy. THIS is a red nose.

Front half is lit.

Adding more lights to the rear.

Pointillistic brontothere.

Brontothere reflected in the overhead door.

The artistic Michelle replaced a white bulb with a green one at each eye, to give him the laser-eyed effect.

Full body lights are working.

Room lights back on for phase II of the work.

White tarps plus multi-colored net lights = a winter snowy wonderland effect. Or so we say.

It all comes together.

Lights and sound system ready to go. Needless to say, he was a hit.

And also needless to say, we are chilled, exhausted and exhilarated after watching him move regally downtown. He was the star of a lovely and joyous hometown parade. You wouldn't see him in the Macy's parade, just as you wouldn't see the decorated horses, Harleys, rescue dogs, Lakota drummers and singing toilets we saw tonight, but I'll take this over Macy's any day.

Let the holiday season begin.


ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

Most awesome!! Great job guys!!

Anne Weil said...

Fun! That is one bright brontothere! But can we hear more about the singing toilets?

Unknown said...

Thanks, y'all. Re the singing toilets: this was on a larger float sponsored by a local pipe fitting company. There were about a dozen toilets arranged in three graduated vertical tiers like choir singers, lit up nicely, with their lids synchronized to go up and down with the music. They really looked as if they were happily singing along. Probably the wittiest float in the whole parade.

You just don't have this much fun in the big cities....