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Homecoming, Repurposed

Gator Float for UF Homecoming Parade.

Raymond Rawks

The unpainted gator float.

Communities across the United States are enjoying the traditions of the fall season, including homecoming festivities.  For local governments looking for creative ways of communicating the potential of sustainability, homecoming parades present a unique opportunity. 

At this year’s University of Florida’s homecoming parade, the town-grown goal of zero waste will be made both fun and inspiring with a 30 foot, fully articulated snapping gator (gators are the mascot of UF).  As thousands of people line the streets of University Avenue on the morning of November 8, this kinetic sculpture will be pedaled on a custom designed bike frame, made up of over 90% repurposed and recycled materials.

Working with local artists Raymond Rawls and Lorraine Duerden, the Alachua County Sustainability and Waste Alternatives Program created carbon-neutral floats for the parade.  The artists have collected materials from the County waste stream to build floats that use “pedal power” instead of fossil fuels.

This reuse project shows that waste can be repurposed before becoming discarded trash. Members of several organizations including the Gainesville Art Lab, the Repurpose Project, Beautiful People Bike Crew, and the UF Juggling Club will ride alongside the artists in the parade.

Waste Management Director Sally Palmi commented, “It’s very inspiring to see that the very things we have thrown away are being used to create art that the whole community can enjoy.”

It is hoped that the artistry of these floats will inspire more of the same entries next year and greater material reuse throughout Florida.

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