The first activity in the design phase is brainstorming about the subject. Once the group building the float has decided on the subject, the designer makes a number of sketches. After incorporating the float group’s comments, the designer makes a final construction drawing to scale. Nowadays, more and more designers also use scale models.
A flower parade float is built on a chassis, which usually has its own engine. Therefore it is possible to move the float without towing it. The structure is made largely of iron, wood and expanded polystyrene (EPS). The finer shapes in the steel section are formed by concrete reinforcement rods. This is covered with a layer of mesh, wood or EPS. This base is then covered with newspapers and wallpaper paste. Once the newspapers have dried, the right colours, lines and letters are painted on. During the final stage, the float is covered in dahlias in the right colours. In recent years, as well as using flower glue, float groups have been experimenting with the use of nails to pin the flowers to the float. All in all, it takes about 6 months to construct a float for the flower parade. On average, the following amounts of materials are used for a float:
During the last two days before the flower parade, the dahlias are glued or pinned onto the float. The millions of flowers are prepared first (the green leaves are removed and the backs are trimmed flat). Next, glue is applied to the back or a nail pushed through the heart of each flower, and finally the flowers are glued or pinned to the float. So three people work on each dahlia. On some parts of the float, the background is made of hardboard instead of mesh. In that case, the flowers can be stapled. This work takes place continuously from Wednesday to Friday morning. So, a float for the flower parade requires quite a bit of organisation. A team consisting of an average of 150 helpers is to be kept busy during these days. Scaffolding is erected and dismantled, the catering has to be good, etc.
The construction of a float for the flower parade is finished off with the application of millions of dahlias. Many of these dahlias are grown in Sint Jansklooster. The other dahlias come from other flower parade towns. Trade takes place between these towns during every flower parade, and flowers are picked weekly from August to October. The numerous dahlia fields create a colourful spectacle for the many cyclists around Sint Jansklooster in the summer. Some 30 different colours are used in the flower parade. The dahlia varieties have names such as Tam Tam, Nescio, Deepest Yellow, Arabian Night and Suze.