Skip to main content
Arts & Entertainment

The secret waterfront warehouse where SF’s parades come together

Rabbit parade props wait in The Parade Guys warehouse on Pier 54 in Mission Bay on Jan. 30, 2023. The Parade Guys have been constructing the floats for the 2023 Lunar New Year Parade since November. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard

San Francisco knows how to put on a parade, from Pride to Lunar New Year. But what happens to the handcrafted floats when the celebrations come to a close?

Hiding in plain sight on the Mission Bay waterfront is a massive warehouse on Pier 54, where the city’s parade floats are not only meticulously constructed, thanks to The Parade Guys, but also stored.

Shelves are filled to towering ceilings with mementos from previous celebrations—carousel horses, giant Coca-Cola bottles, rainbow electric guitars and so much more.

Props from San Francisco's past parades are stored in The Parade Guys' warehouse on Pier 54 in Mission Bay on Jan. 30, 2023. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard

But The Parade Guys can’t really keep everything, right? They often take into account reusability in whether to keep props, according to Stephanie Mufson, owner of The Parade Guys. A lot of the zodiac animals from previous Lunar New Years, for example, have great potential for another spot in the parade limelight in the future.  

Artwork that’s taken an incredible amount of time and effort is hard for any artist to simply pitch.

“If we think it’s a really great piece that we put a lot of love into we’ll keep it as long as we can,” said Mufson. “Things like the giant lips above us. […] We just thought those were so iconic.”

Props of giant lips from a past SF Pride parade are preserved for future use. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard
Stephanie Mufson poses with five rabbit statues at Pier 54 on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, before their installation across the city. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Mufson has worked on 15 Lunar New Year parades, with February’s upcoming event being the first year that the annual festivities are expected to return to pre-pandemic size. Her team is in full swing finishing up the event’s 20 total floats. 

The Parade Guys have been working on rabbit-related fun since November, using around 15 truckloads of lumber and what Mufson said was likely hundreds of pounds of glitter.

Artists work on floats for San Francisco's 2023 Lunar New Year parade in The Parade Guys warehouse on Pier 54 in Mission Bay on Jan. 30, 2023. The warehouse also houses old props from past parades and celebrations. | Morgan Ellis/The Standard

“My favorite, favorite thing about what we do is three hours before parade time when all of the floats are lined up and everything is ready to go,” said Mufson.

“Then suddenly the streets are flooded with people. We’ve been doing it for months, but we get to see it with fresh eyes at that moment.”

Morgan Ellis can be reached at