The Pride Parade in St. Petersburg is billed as Florida's largest, often drawing a crowd of 90,000. The parade begins at dusk, turning the streets of St. Pete into a massive, moving, nighttime celebration. The following day there is a large, family-friendly Pride festival. For several years, the organizers of the St. Pete Science Festival brought a table to the day-time festival, to hand out promotional materials and share some hands-on activities. In 2019 they joined the parade with their own colorful parade float. The float had a science of rainbows theme, was packed with dozens of volunteers dancing to a DJ's "science-themed club music," and was surrounded by a team on foot handing out thousands of diffraction glasses to the cheering crowd (these glasses make every light source look like a rainbow).
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.