When the Giants won the 2014 World Series, The Parade Guys were given a mere 36 hours to build seven world-class championship parade floats for the Giants to ride upon down Market Street in Friday's Championship Parade. SFist was embedded with them for this insanely tight parade float production process, which will continue as you read this and right up until the floats leave the Parade Guys warehouse for the noon, Friday event.
It is not really possible to build seven world-class parade floats in 36 hours, if you need them all to be truly fit for a Bochy. So The Parade Guys, basically the only parade float production company in town, started their 12-15 hour workdays as soon as the World Series began. A team of carpenters, painters and foam core sculptors worked round the clock — at risk of none of this art being seen in the event of a Giants World Series loss — to construct these beauties you see in the exclusive sneak preview pics above.
Fun Fact: Every parade in San Francisco features the exact same 12-18 floats over and over. They just get thoroughly refurbished, repainted and redecorated for each parade. The "Dia de Los Gigantes" float was recently a Peroni float for the Columbus Day Parade. The little kids in Giants apparel are foam core sculptures used in the Chinese New Year Parade. The float with the large sculpted baseball was recently an SF Pride float for something called Pride & Soul.
You almost wonder if Jeff Kent didn't throw the 2002 World Series because he was scared to ride on a refurbished Gay Pride Parade float.
Parade Guys founder Dave Thomas describes the parade float building racket as a seasonal business that goes year-round. But in San Francisco, there can be two or three parades every month.
"When (Dave) hired me, he told me it would be a seasonal business, " laughs Dave's top float building lieutenant Stephanie Mufson. "I haven't had a day off in two years. "
But oh, the floats they make are specialized and awesome. That festive cellophane-looking decorative coating material on the floats? It's actually called "floral sheeting" and "festooning." That super high-end sparkly glitter in the lettering? It's actually called "metal flake." That fringe on the bottom of the floats? It's actually called "fringe." All this shit is hard to find and outlandishly expensive.
But what if the Giants had lost the series? All of this work and expense would have been for naught. "They paid me a small retainer, maybe enough to cover my labor," Thomas told SFist hours before the team clinched the World Series. "But if the Giants lose, it's like this." And then he made a slitting motion toward his wrist.
You think you didn't stop believin'? These people spent 12-hour days painting and festooning Championship floats while the Giants were still down 2-1 in the series. These people worked long into the night jigsawing and glittering wood cutouts after Kansas City shellacked us 10-0 Tuesday night. Because they couldn't afford to be unprepared should a world-class parade be required Friday.
Every night when I left the parade float warehouse in China Basin, I was struck by the sights of massive inequality between newly-arrived techies and longtime local residents. But the Giants are the one thing that brings these polar opposite communities together. On Friday, you will see rich techies and working-class immigrants randomly hugging and high-fiving one another. The Giants are the only thing that can make that happen anymore.
That's kind of beautiful, and so are these floats. Enjoy these sneak preview pics, enjoy the parade Friday and congratulations to every San Francisco Giants fan alive to see this.
Friday's Championship Parade will begin at Market and Steuart Streets at 12 p.m. and continue down Market Street to Civic Center Plaza. See you there!