Green Beer, Irish Cheer, St. Patrick’s Parades, Floats and Lucky Leprechaun’s are all what make St. Patty’s Day so fun!
Some of my absolute favorite things are, holidays, community events, glitter, anything DIY and making ideas on paper come to life! One of the most fun marketing and community engagement projects I have worked on, was creating Parade Floats. The St. Charles Business Alliance is the downtown marketing association for the city of St. Charles, Illinois and has put on the Annual St. Patrick’s Parade for as long as I can remember. When I was managing the Filling Station Pub & Grill, I pitched the idea to create a St. Patrick’s Parade Float to promote the restaurant. The goal was to get more visibility within the community and to be viewed as a local family friendly pub. We also wanted to gain exposure and be on the minds of the attendees of the parade. The St. Patrick’s Parade attracts visitors, residents, business owners and families, every year and has continued to grow from only a parade to a day full of fun family events. There are a couple other St. Patrick’s Parades, one in the Carpentersville and East and West Dundee area and also one in Naperville, but as far as Geneva, Batavia, Elgin, Campton Hills and Elburn go, the St. Charles St. Patrick’s Parade is the place to go! Annually held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day at 2pm, Rt. 64 is shut down and the parade marches on with bagpipes, Irish Dancers and floats from local businesses. The Parade stretches from the westside of the Fox River to Route 25 on the east side of the river. This parade feels like it kicks off everyone’s excitement about spring and has always been a busy day for all the restaurants and shops.
When coming up with a marketing plan I designed and found funding for the float by gaining partners and sponsors who were interested in marketing exposure in addition to the Filling Station contributing a portion of their marketing budget. I created a float crew of workers, friends, family and creatives and we got started! From designing and glittering signs, creating giant shamrocks to building a 10 foot rainbow the creativity and fun from creating these St. Pat’s Floats are still talked about to this day!
The photos show the design from 2012. These were always fun days where current and previous staff and family would participate and their children would be able to get on the float or the vehicle pulling the float, and be in the parade! In 2012 Peter, the owner of the Filling Station pulled their vintage firetruck out of storage and we decorated it in addition to allowing all the children to ride in the back. We had staff passing out coupons and candy to those watching the parade from the street. For this float we had Elgin Beverage and McSorley’s as the sponsors who contributed to the float budget. It was great finding ways to market a brand that was Irish, holiday specific and wanted to be seen as a community supporter. With the rainbow, pot of gold, Irish foggy mist and giant lucky shamrock, we WON First Place for Best Business Entry and in 2012 best in show! After a couple years under our belts and prior years of working on these we really started to nail it!
I was asked to join the Business Alliance’s Marketing & Promotions Committee and have been involved and volunteering for 14 years. For the past two years I have been the Chair of the Committee. If you are looking to get involved please reach out! I love working with St. Charles businesses and finding creative ways they can market and gain more customers.
If your local business is looking for a creative idea to get involved in the next Parade or Community Event?