Roll out the community spirit


The Mirror

Helping build a float taught Christine Martin that it’s possible to give up your Saturdays, get dirty and still have fun.

The float for Federal Way’s Festival Days will make its first public appearance this morning in the annual event’s parade. Martin is counting on the labor of love getting a warm reception.

“We think people will like it and feel proud that it’s a part of their community,” said Martin, one of the float’s main architects as chairwoman of the festival’s marketing committee.

After going without one in previous years, festival organizers decided they wanted a community float for their own parade and to represent Federal Way in other festivals’ parades around Washington –– “our ambassador on wheels,” said Bob Hitchcock, Festival Days president. To make it happen, $10,000 in proceeds from last year’s Festival Days supplemented donations of float materials and labor.

The result is a creation 22 feet long, 13 feet wide and about 10 feet high at its tallest point –– a replica of Mount Rainier, which shares the platform with a scene of Dash Point State Park and a whimsical depiction of Federal Way’s reputation for road construction, including the familiar “Businesses open during construction” signs. Balloons are used liberally in a recreation of the festival’s logo measuring five feet by five feet.

Steel, plywood and fabric are other materials in the float, all mounted on the donated chassis of a 1985 Oldsmobile Toronado.

Weeks of Saturdays were spent on the project by Martin and her helpers, including her children, Suzanne Smith and Greg Edwards, a veteran floatbuilder for other communities.

“It’s been a lot of fun –– and work,” said Martin, adding the work was frequently dirty.

The parade today will start at 11 a.m., winding along several streets downtown before ending at The Commons at Federal Way, the scene of most of the festival. The float will be parked at the mall for viewing until the festival ends Sunday.

Then it will be stored in a trailer at a location to be decided until next year’s schedule of parades at other festivals –– as many as one per month, Martin said –– leading up to the 2006 Festival Days, when a new design will be unveiled.

Units involving more than 1,900 people have signed up to be a part of today’s parade, according to festival spokeswoman Barbara Reid. That doesn’t include volunteers who will serve as parade marshals.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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