The Fourth of July Parade in Flagstaff, Arizona is one of the largest events in the region, often drawing crowds of more than 20,000 to a city of some 70,000 people. The parade and surrounding events have brought together communities across Northern Arizona for decades. Similarly, the Flagstaff Festival of Science has celebrated annually since 1990. After nearly thirty years of being separate tentpole events for Flagstaff, the Festival hit upon the idea of joining in as part of the parade. In 2019 the Festival teamed up with the CoCoRAS, a youth robotics club, to march in the parade and pay tribute to Flagstaff’s role in U.S. moon landings.
Everyone at a parade is a part of the action, but it is usually clear who is actually on parade and who is not. This clear distinction makes parades a great entry point for considering situated engagement. All of the veteran teams with sites featured here could easily throw together outreach tables at the end of a parade route, but actually joining a parade was a very new experience. Creatively putting “parade technology” to use involves so much more than just hitching up a trailer for a parade float. For science outreach, it means rethinking everything from basic messaging, to who shows up, to overall goals and expectations. And it sure is worth it. Hear why from the teams and observers involved in three Science In Vivo sites: St. Pete Pride Parade, DragonCon Parade, and the Flagstaff Fourth of July Parade. The audio highlights here are from final critiques in 2019 and a group category conversation in 2021.