Genie theme dominates official 2008 Strawberry Festival float

MARYSVILLE — Among the dozen or so volunteers on hand, the consensus seemed to be the first attempt would take at least an hour.

MARYSVILLE — Among the dozen or so volunteers on hand, the consensus seemed to be the first attempt would take at least an hour.

Still, when the brand new 2008 Marysville Strawberry Festival float rolled down the ramp from the trailer that will house and carry it from event to event, the time needed to fully assemble the creation was about half those initial estimates.

Reflecting the “Wish Upon a Berry” slogan for this year’s festival, the whimsical float bears a genie or fanciful Middle Eastern theme. A man-sized strawberry, complete with arms, legs and a smiling face, rides a magic carpet in the center of the float.

Toward one end are large, colorful minarets. And at the other, sit platforms for the queen and princesses of the April Friesner Royalty Scholarship Pageant.

Both they and the float will represent Marysville at various events inside and outside the city over the next few months.

While it will see its initial official action April 12, the float was unveiled for the first time last week at Ebey Slough Waterfront Park.

For the seventh year, Strawberry Festival organizers employed a Canadian company, Turner Display, to build the float, said festival board member Jodi Hiatt. She estimated cost at about $20,000, funded through donations and festival sponsorships.

According to Hiatt and others, the whole thing starts out as a stripped down trailer frame. Festival organizers send their ideas to Turner’s design team, who come up with various drawings and possibilities. The festival board has the final design approval.

The main reason for last week’s unveiling was to see how the various pieces of the float fit together. With little room to spare on either side, the main body is stored inside the trailer. Once pulled out in the open air, various pieces and parts must be put in place. Last week was the first of many such efforts.

“Whenever we go to the different festivals, we all help put it together, whatever needs to be put on it,” said scholarship pageant organizer Bobbi Young.

Hiatt said that based on previous experience, once the float team figures out the basic routine, setting up the float will take about 15 minutes.

In the beginning of last week’s efforts, however, there was at least some minor confusion as volunteers happily tried to figure out where various strawberry representations were supposed to go, where to put the flags, where the queen and princesses will stand, where the cooler with the food and the water bottles will sit.

One bystander asked if plenty of pictures were being taken so volunteers could use them to retrace their steps and know where to put what next time the float is put together.

When the float next comes out of the trailer April 12, it will be in Tacoma, the first of four stops that day. From Tacoma, Hiatt said the float, its team of volunteers and the queen and princesses will make the rounds through Puyallup, Sumner and Orting.

“The last is the smallest of those four, but we always get a great reception,” Hiatt said.