Sooner or later you're going to be asked to participate in a parade. There's nothing like driving your Corvette down the middle of Main Street in front of the whole town (and sometimes television too). Whether you are the driver for a homecoming queen or dignitary, or just display club fiberglass, here are a few pointers:
The first step to having a successful parade is to plan in advance. Typically an event sign-up sheet will have been prepared and passed around at a club meeting well in advance of any parade the club has been asked to be in or has applied to be in. Typically a minimum of 6 CdeO Vettes are required prior to the club accepting or applying to be in any particular parade.
The parade group should arrange to meet at a separate location. Each parade participant should know the time of departure, location of the meeting place, and the name and phone number of the club member designated to be the coordinator for the event (in this case A Parade).
In preparation for the parade, make sure your Vette is mechanically sound. Driving at 5 mph for an as much as an hour can bring out the worst in a vehicle if its not properly tuned. Consult with your mechanic to make sure your car can take the punishment. And pay special attention to your cooling system. Any bad hoses or radiator leaks need to be fixed. If you have earlier Vettes with small radiators, talk to your mechanic about what you can do to keep it cool during the parade. If you drive a stick shift, make sure your clutch and transmission is in good health (your left leg, too!); you may end up doing a lot of shifting up and down. If you're uncertain about any mechanics, DON'T DO THE PARADE!
Prior to the parade, get everything clean and shiny. Windshield, tires, and exhausts. Clear all the junk out from inside and vacuum everything. Don’t you want Aunt Minnie (or your ex-girlfriend/wife) to see your car looking sharp? Check all fluid levels; fill up the gas tank, and check tire air pressure. This is also a good time to double-check all hoses and belts.
When you arrive prior to the parade, make sure you are on time. The coordinator for the event should allow ample time for additional preparation for signs, displays, or passengers. If CdeO is expected to carry royalty or dignitaries, the parade organizer or sponsor will usually provide signs. DON'T USE TAPE to attach signs as it may not stick to the waxed surface or it could leave a sticky residue on your paint. We currently use suction cups with clips to hold signs in place. Use a hole punch to make holes around the perimeter of the sign to allow you to attach the sign to each suction cup. The club also has some American Flags for the radio antenna of your car. (What is more patriotic than Corvettes and American Flags). Bring along some cleaning clear to spiffy up your car prior to parade start.
If you are transporting another person in your Vette, YOU should decide on how or where that person sits. Naturally, we would like our passenger to sit in the passenger seat, but the public has a hard time seeing them. This gets trickier with a homecoming dress. T-top Corvettes are great for dignitaries, but if you have a roadster, you have other options. In most parades, the passenger can sit on the rear deck, as long as the passenger is not over 110 pounds. Make sure the deck is structurally strong (no severe damage or fiberglass de-lamination) and provide a blanket or towel to protect the paint. By moving the passenger seat well forward, the passenger can sit on the rear deck and place their feet just behind the seat. As for T-tops, I have seen some passengers sit on the top of the seat back, or actually sit on the roof at the edge of the T-top, or lean on the roof and stand on the seat. Please NOTE, these are suggested options. You own the car and You make all decisions as to where or how your passenger is to ride. And if it rains, there's no problem as to where the passenger will sit is there?
A short drivers' meeting may be held before the start of any parade. This is the last opportunity for each participant to ask questions. At this time the CdeO parade coordinator should select which vehicles go in which order (unless someone from the host Parade Committee has asked for a specific order). Try not to get two cars of the same color together (Sugar’s rule). A SUGGESTION - To make it interesting, have the earlier models go first. Participants should line up their vehicles and proceed to the parade starting point.
If passengers are carried, they will meet you either at the setup location or at the parade start location. The vehicle they sit in is usually dependent upon which order they are expected or introduced during the parade. You may not know who your passenger is until the last minute when they walk up to your car and hand you their name sign for your doors. Be prepared! Get them seated comfortably and safely. For those who sit on the rear deck, show them where they can hold on in case they start to slide. Most of the passengers will have a problem finding the door handle.
When the parade starts, relax. Start the car and follow the car or entry in front of you. Make sure your parking lights or driving lights are on for effect. Keep your distance and, yes, watch your side mirrors for those behind you. If you drive or turn a corner too fast, it could be dangerous for your passenger. Also, should we have to follow a horse unit, remember your autocross skills!
If you run slowly, watch those gauges. Parades can run slow, especially if there are kids or animals in the entries preceding your group. In our Lakefair parade, because most of the parade is down hill, a good technique has been to start the engine, get the car in motion, put the transmission in neutral, and coast during the down hill portion of the parade. This makes for a smooth, slow parade without a lot of stop-and-going. There's enough of a slope in downtown Olympia to coast most of the way of the parade route. If your gauges are showing "HOT", pop your hood to get more air circulating. In the later generations of Corvettes just turn on your AC to MAX. This will cause your second “electric” radiator fan to kick in allowing more air to be pushed through your cars radiator, thus allowing more cooling capabilities.
If problems develop, pull out of the parade. Hopefully, one of the other vehicles will have room for your passenger. If the parade coordinator can pull it off, an extra vehicle with a club member as passenger in the group wouldn't hurt - just in case it's a hot day!
When the parade is over, you will need to know where to drop off your passenger. If you need to transport your passenger to another point after the end of the parade, make sure your passenger is in the seat this time, because you won't be traveling at parade speed anymore.
Well that's it. Remember, the key points to any parade are to be prepared, relax, and have fun