Monday, July 25, 2011

Shades of Pixar in Parade Floats

For me, the Creelman Fair (put on by the Creelman Agricultural Society) is the biggest event of the year and in 20 years I haven't missed one.

One of the highlights of the annual fair is the Parade that goes down the service road, adjacent to Highway 33, turns down Main Street, and then heads to the fair grounds. When I was younger, my dream was always to build a float and one day be a part of the Creelman Fair Parade.

One day, about a week before the fair in 2003, on an old flat bed trailer in my Oma's shed, my brothers, cousins, and I got to work on what would be our first of many parade floats. "Hockey Night in Creelman" was a success, it was our "Toy Story".

So what are the other connections to Pixar Animation Studios? Well...

Just as Pixar has reoccurring themes in every film, we used the same style of lettering on each float. The same letters that we traced and cut in 2003 were either reused directly on the float or used as a stencil for new letters out of the same old corrugated bulletin board covering from Creelman School. Then, continuing after our second float, green artificial turf became a staple as well.

After that first year we thought that we might run out of ideas if we tried to do one every year, so we decided to try to make a float every other year. When Pixar started it was never about quantity, but more so on quality, kind of like us. We did make the one exception, however, that if the Saskatchewan Roughriders ever won the Grey Cup we would make a Rider float even if it was in back to back years.

Pixar films are known for their stories while other animated movies seem to lack the quality Pixar produces. In parades, lots of floats can be pulled by one guy in a truck and that's good enough because they will usually have a big colourful float with a huge "thing" on it and some sort of message. Our floats stood out, and not because they were just flatbed trailers with kids on them. Our floats wouldn't have been the same without the people. That's what made our floats stand out, the people and the story they told by being on that float.

Hockey Night in Creelman - 2003
I would have been 12 years old at the time, meaning my siblings and cousins ranged in age from 11-5. With the help of my uncles and dad we put together what I consider the greatest float in the history of the Creelman Fair, or close to it.
Hockey Night in Creelman featured a couple of kids playing ball hockey on a trailer bed. We had a net, a tennis ball tied to the trailer floor with binder twine (so we wouldn't lose it), a chicken wire backstop, and hockey boards to display the tagline. On the front of the trailer was a desk with two of my brothers suited up as Don Cherry and Ron MacLean who threw candy out of a replica Stanley Cup (if the greatest part about the parade was getting candy, the second best thing had to be throwing it out to people).
Award: Neil McCallum Parade Award - The entry which best captures the spirit of Creelman's "Biggest Little Fair."

Have a Ball at the Fair - 2005
If our floats have any connection with Pixar, this was definitely our "Cars" of the bunch. It was good, but nothing special. It stood out, but not with the same flare as some of the other floats we were going to make in the future. But it got the job done.
The slogan was a classic and that green artificial turf with masking tape baselines looked solid.

Creelman Gas - 2007
Based on the hit CTV television show, Corner Gas, this float was a classic. We went all out with a gas pump, counter from "The Ruby", and a custom Corner Gas sign (thanks to the help of Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Larry, and Uncle Lawrence), but the thing that really made this float was the people. Just like our first float, we had a great cast of character that really brought the float to life.
I tried to get in contact with the actors and actually sent a few emails back and forth with a few agents, but they were on tour promoting in the United States, so we went with our original plan and took on the roles of Brent, Hank, Davis, Oscar, and Lacey.
Award: Best Non-Commercial Float

Rider Pride - 2008
After the Saskatchewan Roughriders' third Grey Cup Championship in November of 2007, we had to break with our "float every two years" tradition and make a Rider Pride Float the next summer. I tried to get Gainer the Gopher to come to the fair (as I'm told he has been there before), but it was game day so it didn't work out.
The lines on the field turf looked pretty good and so did the uprights at the back of the float. Besides the uprights, the two other major projects were the Grey Cup and the wooden retro Rider logo on the front of the float (if it was on the front I only had to cut and paint one, see I was learning a lot about symmetry).

Winter Olympics - 2010
In 2010 I was lucky enough to be an Olympic Torch Bearer in the Torch's journey to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Torch Bearers are then allowed to buy the torch they carry as a keep sake. My grandpa made a deal with me that he would pay for the Torch as long as I brought it to the Creelman Fair. Done and done.
This worked out perfectly as 2010 was 2 years after our last float and an Olympic themed float could fit into the rotation nicely.
We had the Olympic Rings, and sure having the torch there was nice, but building a 3D version of the Vancouver Inukshuk logo and having a variety of Olympians on the float was the best part.

Now, the comparisons to Pixar could be a stretch, but I know we did something special year after year. We became closer as a family while building the floats and we learned a lot (from welding, to carpentry, to design), we made people smile, and heck we even made the Weyburn Review! But the best thing, in my eyes, is that we were able to fulfill a simple dream. I wanted to enter a float in the Creelman Fair Parade, and well, I did it.

See more Creelman Fair Parade Float photos on Flickr.

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