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Who Cares about the Float?

March 28, 2024


By: Katherine Trowbridge


With a unique history, the Connell Community Float has been organized, built, and run by a number of volunteers over the years. At present, there is no one in place to oversee the details of the float which include coordinating parade dates, submitting entries, and organizing the decorating.


While many make the assumption that the float represents the Miss Connell Scholarship Program, it does not. As a decades-long tradition though, the program representatives have ridden the community float, serving as ambassadors of our community. Over the years, the float has traveled throughout eastern Washington to various parades each season, representing our own Fall Festival and giving exposure and encouraging tourism for the city of Connell.


Thanks to funding from the Hotel & Motel tax fund, a new trailer was purchased in 2015 and a new float was constructed in 2016. Then in 2020, after years of donations and fundraising through advertising signage on the float trailer, a new pick-up was purchased to pull the trailer and float to the events. However, due to Covid restrictions in 2020, the truck has only been in use for the last three parade seasons.


The consensus of everyone involved, stated during discussion at the Connell City Council meeting on March 20, is to have all three pieces owned, operated, and managed under one entity. The chamber suggested it should be the city since they already own two of the three pieces, however, the city feels that the pieces would best be managed through the chamber as they are already organizing other community events.


The former volunteer “float committee” retired at the end of the 2023 season, following 11 years of service to the community. Word was put out in the community for one and half years prior to their final season, searching for others interested in taking over the community project. Mayor Lee Barrow stated, “Unfortunately, no one has currently committed to take on a long-term role in maintaining the float program.”


The Mayor continued, “I do not believe purchasing the truck would be the best use of city funds. And, based on the uncertainty of the float program, I would hate to see the truck and trailer sit in the city yard indefinitely, not being utilized.”


The question at hand is truly, “Who cares about the float?”


Chamber President Bevon Davis shared that the chamber board agreed to see the program through the 2024 season and then, if no interest was expressed, to sunset it at the end of the year. Davis’ thoughts were that people may step up at the last minute, although, if no one steps up, the float program may not go forward.


Kara Booker, former float committee and chamber board member added, “It makes sense to be owned and operated under one entity.” Going on to clarify that the separate entities have only been in place for about three years, as the city formerly provided a truck prior to the purchase of the new pick-up.


City Administrator Cathleen Koch stated that she really hasn’t looked into what other cities are doing and that checking on that may give other options. Although she emphasized that the city is “already stretched really thin” and it would be difficult to take on one more thing. In support of the float, the city gives up to $4,500 per year through the Hotel Motel tax funds to construct and decorate the float.


Lauren Smith, representing the Jr. Miss Program, along with this year’s parents and representatives, also joined in the discussion, emphasizing that having a point person in place that the parents could talk to and get information from for this float season was essential.


The parents have expressed interest in decorating this year’s float but are faced with a few challenges. At this time, they anticipate that they will begin the season in Spokane and Moses Lake by riding in the back of a truck.


“Ultimately, it is the city’s float,” Smith said.


Many cities have done away with a float all together and have opted to have their Jr. Miss representatives ride in a convertible or truck. Several options are being discussed from giving the float and trailer to the chamber, selling the truck to the city, or keeping things as they are. The Mayor stated, “Wherever we go from here, we’ll support the program.”


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