What does it take to make a winning parade float? A fantastic group of excited and creative volunteers with passion and perseverance! Thank you to all of our volunteers for designing and building an award-winning float for the Leesburg 4th of July parade.
Eighteen days before the parade, volunteer Natatie Manzanares convinced us that, “we should do this,” resulting in a colorful display that showcased Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy at the Leesburg 2023 4th of July parade. In those few short weeks, Natalie worked with the Loudoun Wildlife staff and board members to secure funding from Last Call Exteriors to purchase decorations, organize volunteers and track down the equipment needed to make the project work. Watermark Woods provided the location to bring it all together and logistical support.
A team of 35 excited volunteers quickly assembled to plan the details with our artistic lead, Jerry Underhill, rising to the top. Materials poured in, from boxes to paper, sticks, butterflies and frogs, followed by donations of more decorative goodies and costumes. Finally, the most important goal: spread the word about Loudoun Wildlife’s mission to the community. Banners and signs were created. We purchased coreopsis seeds, envelopes and labels, and Loudoun Wildlife President Jim McWalters got busy stuffing 400 envelopes for parade volunteers to hand out to the crowd of spectators.
As the planning continued, volunteers raised their hands to join the parade as walkers. Chad Green said, “I’ll be the racoon,” Arunie Clark was a ladybug and others were butterflies, birdwatchers and supporters. This cast of characters focused on our partnership with the Dulles Greenway with our Bald Eagle nest cam as the star of the show.
On the day of the parade, our volunteers gathered at 8:00 am at Ida Lee Park to begin the last-minute assembly of materials, meet the competition and greet the judges, which ultimately resulted in us winning the Patriot Cup for the best float. At 10:00 am the festivities began. Jackson Borneman drove his Rivian electric vehicle that pulled the gorgeously decorated waterfall and Bald Eagle nest float, while floppy the inflatable tube man waved from the truck bed. Brian Magurn was a walking Bald Eagle handing out seed packets. His daughter, Elizabeth, waved from the nest and supplied essential materials to ensure there was water and seed packets for the crowd as the float proceeded through town. The entire team of volunteers proudly brought their exuberant wildlife characters to life while waving and handing out seed packets to the crowd as our parade float proceeded down King street for 45 minutes of celebration.
Staff, board members and volunteers had a blast creating the prize-winning entry in the Leesburg 4th of July parade. The Town of Leesburg affirmed that our efforts, ingenuity and mission are worthy of recognition and praise. We are so grateful to our team of dedicated volunteers for celebrating our mission, environmental awareness and advocacy with the Loudoun community.