With so many participants in the Hockessin 4th of July, it can be hard to stand out. Unless, of course, "creative" is your name.
For CCArts, July 4th marks the art facility’s second year participating in the Hockessin 4th of July parade.
“Everyone had so much fun last year that there was no way we weren’t going to participate again this year,” said the Center for the Creative Arts Executive Director Carla Pastore. “We’ve all been looking forward to it, especially the kids. They love getting to be a part of it with us.”
It’s not all fun, games and paint-by-numbers, though. Every year, judges evaluate floats and a winner is named.
“Floats are an exercise in creativity,” Pastore explained. “Whatever theme you pick, the decorations have to express that theme so that the judges understand it when they see it.”
This year’s parade theme is an extension of the overall camp theme: “Art for Earth.”
“It’s a different way to think about recycling,” said Assistant Camp Director Nora Silard. “It shows the kids that recycling is not just about dropping stuff off in the recycling bins at home or school. You can actually reuse those materials in a creative way and create something completely new.”
Everything used on the float is a recycled material that was repurposed at CCArts, either through a class or random interest and participation. The centerpieces of float are the large “truffula trees” created with old, plastic water bottles.
The roots of the tree started to take shape back in January when a table appeared in CCArts’ main hallway. The table contains step-by-step instructions for turning the water bottles into something akin to sculptor Dale Chihuly’s famous blown glass artwork. The process is simple: First, cut the bottom off of a water bottle. Next, cut the bottle, either in a spiral patter or flower pattern to get a Chihuly-inspired shape. Bend, shape and adjust it until it’s just right.
Once the shape is just right, a pipe-cleaner can be added as a “stem” so that it can be added as another flowering branch of the “truffula tree.”
What exactly are “truffula trees?” Most people familiar with Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” will recognize them as the fanciful trees created for the environmental tale penned by the late, great children’s author.
“The trees really inspired us,” Silard explained, referring to herself and the other assistant camp director, Becca Schmitt, who took on the task of creating this year’s float. “As soon as we saw them coming together, they looked like something out of Dr. Seuss. So, with the theme in mind, we looked for a Dr. Seuss story that emphasized the environment. ‘The Lorax’ was a perfect fit.”
In addition to the trees, there are mushrooms, created with old lunch bags and flowers made from more recycled water bottles. Painted soda cans act as vases.
“A lot of what you see was created during camp,” said Camp Director Becky Eppig. “The kids just love getting to have a hand in this. The kids in our ‘Fabulous Fabrics for the 4th’ class even made hats for all of the instructors involved with the float. It’s the first time I’ve ever received a camp-,made gift in the first two weeks of summer. It shows how excited they all are about being a part of it.”
It’s not just about participation, though. The kids want the float to win, too.
“They wait a few days to announce the parade float winner,” explained Eppig. “Last year, the kids kept coming up to us and asking, ‘Did we win? Did we win?’ They’re so invested this year that I know they’ll all be on pins and needles with us next week until we hear.”