Float guru gears up for tonight’s Christmas City of the North ParadeAnd now a holiday message from the Great Lakes Aquarium: Don’t release your pet goldfish into Lake Superior.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
And now a holiday message from the Great Lakes Aquarium: Don’t release your pet goldfish into Lake Superior.
The three-time award-winning team from the aquarium is building a float for today’s annual Christmas City of the North Parade that focuses on its featured exhibit “Aquatic Invaders” — a list of invasive species that includes pet goldfish —but also has traditional decorations like trees wrapped in garland and red hats.
“It’s a Christmas float and a message float,” said self-described “float guru” Mary Pensak, the volunteer coordinator at the aquarium, who plotted the theme and layout of the float at the end of the summer.
Northland NewsCenter’s parade starts at 6:30 p.m. today at the station’s studios in Canal Park, travels up Lake Avenue to Superior Street and ends at Fifth Avenue West. It includes 20 marching bands, nine dance groups, dozens of floats and a first glimpse of Santa Claus. The parade is televised live on KBJR channel 6 and will be rebroadcast throughout the holiday season.
This year, for the first time, winning floats will be picked online by the viewing audience. Go to northlandsnewscenter.com for a link on the parade’s live stream. Voting stays up after the parade and viewers can vote once per day on the best float. The winner gets a free entry in next year’s parade.
The Great Lakes Aquarium’s float includes 4-foot Asian carp made of sequined silver-grey material. Wood beams are decorated with a likeness of zebra mussels made from a found collection of sea shells and Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive aquatic plant, which hang in a wreath-like way. There will be fishermen in Santa hats catching species from the bed of the float and a cardboard boat with signs on the side reminding people to dispose of unwanted bait and to inspect and clean boats after use.
The surprise invader is the common goldfish, sometimes released into great bodies of water by pet owners. These will be played by parade walkers wearing 4-foot orange velour goldfish-shaped hats. There will also be the aquarium’s usual crew of otters and sturgeon walking alongside the float.
Aquarium staff members sew, build, paint and work cardboard into a boat. The floats are made entirely in-house, and tend to fare well with judges at the parade.
In previous years, aquarium floats have featured seahorses pulling a sleigh driven by a mermaid, scuba divers and a yellow submarine.
“I get so into it,” said aquarium employee Carolyn Reisberg, who was helping put final touches on the float on Thursday. She will be dressed as a fisherman during the parade. “I’m so proud we’ve won three trophies. We’re all skilled and creative.”
They aren’t sure who the competition is, though, as they never end up seeing the other award-winning floats. Other entries include Arco’s famous coffeepot, filled with real coffee, Best Buy’s in-house rock band, the Duluth Children’s Museum, a debut for Rhubarb Fest’s mascot and more, said Kelli Latuska, a parade producer.