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.
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.”
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.
“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 [email protected]