Making a successful Furry float for San Francisco Pride 2014
by Patch O'Furr
(Video from SFPride/Clear Channel. Unedited here at 2:36:00 – may be NSFW.)
Bay Area Furries brought the first Furry float to SF Pride since 2004 or so. I estimate 50 at the parade (with 20 or more fursuiters), plus 20 or more at attached Pride events we held. We carried out a long-time wish to be in the parade after two years of informal Pride meets.
Setting aside the reason for Pride, here’s stuff I learned about fursuiting – a request for help with contributing photos/videos – and a no-expectation hint that donations would be loved to cover costs (but really, the $1000 budget was a gift.)
Out of many Street Fursuiting excursions, SF Pride was the most rewarding experience I’ve had. Riding the float would have been cool on it’s own. I almost rode, but changed my mind and ran alongside it for a few hours in the heat. It was so taxing, that when I finally got the fursuit off, I was soaked and very light headed. It took me past limits I haven’t pushed even when dancing a lot, because you can’t stop in a parade. (Pace it.)
It was worth it for the performing. The parade moved at fast walking pace for a mile and a half, which took lots of runs to catch up after stopping to perform. The float itself was too contained to be very physical, but the street made countless opportunities for interaction with the crowd. There was a group of street center walkers, but I only noticed 6 or 8 fursuiters getting right up to the crowds at the railings. Unlike a fair, the crowd was all facing one direction and not surrounding or blocking space, drawing their eyes to open street, letting you choose how long to interact. I can’t think of better fursuiting.
Lots of people screamed for hugs (because of our “free hugs” signs). Running up to give them brought even more reaction. If a section was impassive from seeing so many floats, there would at least be someone at the railing you could ease up to and mess around with. A talking animal can say almost anything to make people laugh (like when I told someone “I sure could go for a beer- put it in my dog bowl.”) Groggy (in feline fursuit) did a hilarious, inventive bit of playing with streamers on a pole that float monitor Joe was waving- like “kitty chases a string”. Someone poked me with a balloon, so I grabbed it and “worried” it and played fetch with them. Running to catch up was full of high-fives. All of this drew tons of appreciation and photos. There were a few blank faces, but for the most part it seemed to get a super positive crowd response.
Rawr… Cali Coyote rocked his look and got a great story to share.
Can anyone contribute more photos or video, or offer volunteer help to assemble them together in one place?
266 photos are at Bay Area Furries at Meetup.org, most by Tok. (They aren’t batch-downloadable, except if you use this Windows application.)
Hundreds more photos are pending from a volunteer who happened to be on the spot with a pro camera (I’ll get them later).
More are on the Bay Area Furries – SFPride Facebook page.
Quentin Coyote’s gallery has a few.
And you can search hashtags to find a few more:
In May, it started with an announcement from Bos’n Otter that he was applying for a spot in the parade. Then it was up to volunteers to step up and do logistics work. Nobody did, until I made and shared plans: an event page, my contacts, and a shared spreadsheet of needs and resources. You could say there were 3 main organizers: Bos’n (who had done it back in 2004), Me, and Zoren (who asked us to throw him any duties we couldn’t do- which was quite a few.) But the community effort from everyone who came was the real reason it happened. It’s very fortunate to have so many furry fans in one part of the country.
Bos’n had family business, and I was out of the country for a while, so it had a very late start. It didn’t look likely to happen. Thankfully, Zoren’s support sustained what we could do to make it succeed. There were only 6 or 7 days to put everything together.
Bos’n took on duties specific to the float: getting the truck and inviting Og as the helpful driver. Zoren took on work for logistics and supplies: getting shade structure, water, and handling other support I couldn’t give. I did everything that could be done from a computer – planning event times/places, hotel, transport info, locating helpers, and so forth.
My part was really just a ton of emailing, and linking every resource together. It wasn’t work like traveling to pick things up on a schedule, but high volume of messages all day long for a week. There are abundant resources for this, but they can be very disjointed from each other. For example: “Bay Area Furries” means 3 separate and active groups, with 3 different sets of admins (an email list, a Meetup group, and a Facebook group.) Posting in one won’t notify users of another. That’s what I had to coordinate. Meetup.org was key. Thanks to active admins and local user base, if you spend an hour or two to write up an event, with well-planned logistics, it seems to never fail to draw the necessary RSVP’s. Meetup made my job almost do itself- with just a cost of time.
Other key help included professional monitor presence, from Todd and friend Joe, who designed amazing costumes and props for themselves. (I also brought “hugs” signs he contributed to a previous event.) Float monitors were required for safety- needing a one-hour training class, on very short notice. Those who went above and beyond for training included Vert, Animosulo, Dawdle, Og and Liz, Daisy and Scoob, and a few others.
Budget and donations
A several hundred dollar budget was donated by Spotticus for the float. Generator and fans were loaned from Tok and Base. I put $700 into two nights of hotel for costume changing and crashing, plus a thank-you dinner for members who stuck around afterward. It was a gift, but if anyone wants to send tips to help make more events, I would really appreciate Paypal money to: patch.ofurr(at)gmail.
EDIT: I neglected to add $850 paid by Bos’n Otter for truck rental and parade entry fees.