I'm currently building a 4th of July parade float for our local rocketry education program. It will be 12" in diameter and ~20ft long. It would be "way cool" if I could periodically have a countdown and expel simulated rockets exhaust from the rocket's nozzle while the float accelerates away.
We have very strict fireworks ordinances in town so pyrotechnics are not an option. I am considering a blast of compresses CO2 to simulate the exhaust. A fire extinquesher???
That might work. You also might be able to use a smoke generator. They use mineral oil and are not pyrotechnical in operation.
Be certain that you clearly identify your group as a hobby group. You would think that rockets and the 4th of July would go together well and that everyone would be aware of model rocketry, but you would be suprised. Here is our experience with this sort of thing. Hopefully others can learn from this and have better luck.
Around 10 years ago our rocketry club (Central Illinois Aerospace - CIA) decided to enter a float in the local 4th of July parade. We had an ATV, a tracked vehicle, which we build a dummy shell around and painted to look something like the crawler that carries the rockets out the pads a Cape Canaveral. We had intended to have the rocket mounted on it upright, ready for lauch, perhaps with a gantry, but there were height maximums due to having to pass under telephone lines and such, so we mounted the rocket at around a 45 degree angle. Then we had a trailer pulled by the vehicle in which we displayed a wide variety of large model and high power rockets. Then three of our club members walked behind wearing lab coats, hard hats and carrying clipboards. We intended to look like "rocket scientists". We thought this might get people interested and bring them out to see some of our launches. However that is not what happened. We were booed and called war-mongerers (sp?) and baby-killers and so on. Those of us walking with the float spent all of our time trying to explain to the spectators that we flew rockets as a hobby and that it is a generally peaceful and educational hobby. Few, if any, got this message.
On reflection we think we see some of the places we went wrong. First off our club is called the CIA and while we had "Model Rocket" written on our signs, we should have made that much more pronounced. Then although the carrier vehicle was painted white, with the rocket at 45 degrees it really did look more like an armored personel carrier with a rocket launcher on top than it did like a NASA crawler. I also think those of us dressed as "rocket scientists" probably looked a lot like peoples' impression of Von Braun, et al at Peenemunde. Of course having hard hats and lab coats with CIA on them probably didn't help.
I would suggest avoiding looking militaristic and emphasize the hobby ascpects of rocketry. Having a big rocket to WOW the crowd is great, but you might want to also have some kids with your display holding their Estes and Quest rockets showing that rocketry is fun and educational for the whole family.
----- Jonathan Sivier Secretary, Central Illinois Aerospace jsivier AT uiuc.edu NAR #56437 Tripoli #1906 CIA Web Site:
Sad...that your fine group had to re-think its choices...all because the general populace did not have the intelligence/education to figure you out.
Similar to a costume I saw at a local costume shop, here in Austin. A fine specimen of a German Officer's uniform...but the proprietor felt the need to safety pin a disclaimer to it, stating that the presence of the costume did not mean that the shop endorsed Nazi policies. The sad thing about it: It was *not* a WWII-era uniform. It was a 1980's EAST German uniform! (very similar in look...but vastly differing in political beliefs...lol)
As some have suggested, I would go with the dry ice approach. Easy to manage and should be easy to get (party shops usually have dry ice)
Back in 2002, when we opened FlisKits, we decided to enter two town events to help publisize it. I built a rocket shaped cardboard boat (full size boat made of corugated cardboard that you paddle around a course on a lake) that we entered as a float for the 4th of July parade and also ran at the cardboard boat races.
We made it crystal clear that this was *model* rocket related, and had a ball.
HINT: These parades are notorious for being held on the hottest day of the year (or it sure seems like it). Try what we now do every year... For about a penny or two a pop, you can buy ice-pops that you freeze ahead of time and you toss THOSE out instead of candy. You will be the hit of the parade!
Here's a link to a picture of our float:
and a link to the page with a photo album of its construction:
The Independance will be running again this year also!
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
I had something like this happen when I performed a demonstration launch and manned a display table for a local Middle-school Technology Festival. The theme was "Technology Through the Ages" and the students were all encouraged to do a hands-on project. I had the kids build and launch their own rockets.
All went well until I was confronted by an unreconstructed 60's peacefreak who had bred, and he was angry that I was somehow indoctrinating his goldensprogs with military propaganda. Didn't I know that the space program was only a front for the CIA and the imperial aspirations of a warmongering fascist administration? And besides, those rockets are unsafe! How could I justify exposing helpless children to dangerous explosive missiles? This guy was getting really red in the face and he made a big production out of slamming the catalogs his kids had picked up on the display table. He was threatening to call the police on me when the police showed up to escort him off the premises.
It's a shame I never got his kid to build a rocket.
"Yield to temptation; it may not pass your way again." - Lazarus Long
There is a group that re-enacts the WWII-era Luftwaffe for historic festivals. Part of their bylaws is that they must refrain from using the Nazi salute and may not display any Nazi insignia, especially the swastika. (In uniform the re-enactors are required to accord all appropriate military courtesy, including the rendering of salutes when required.) While I understand the sort of emotions a swastika or other Nazi symbols might evoke, I really think that this is PC gone too far. It is akin to redacting the racial content out of "Huckleberry Finn."
History must never be whitewashed.
"Yield to temptation; it may not pass your way again." - Lazarus Long
A long time ago, during a Labor Day parade, the local Carpenter's union built a float that was a large rocket, at a slight angle. The tip of said rocket was my little brother's G.I. Joe Mercury capsule. My little brother (who is 46 years old now) and three other kids were dressed as astronauts on the float. In the back of the float, hidden from view, was stationed a volunteer(me, my dad volunteered me) with two tanks of CO2. One tank was hooked to a hose with a fire extinguisher type nozzle, that I blew short blasts thru during the parade. When we got to the Fairgrounds, where the reviewing/ judging stand was, I hooked up the second tank, and let fly with a continuous blast. We won first place. I would recommend a similar set up for your float, a fire extinguisher won't blast very long. Christopher Brian Deem NAR 12308 TRA 2256 level II