RWU students have been building and entering a float in the Bristol Fourth of July Parade since 1989, to great success — most recently earning “Best of Parade” honors for the last three years. The float creation is the responsibility of the orientation student staff (with assistance from facilities staff), whose responsibilities peak in early summer and just before school begins as they welcome incoming students. Much of the spring is focused on the float, with conceptualization and design beginning in March, and construction beginning in earnest in May. This year’s theme“Great American Heroes” will honor all 5 branches of the service along with early responders and include 8 students on the float in costume and another 35 accompanying it on the route. “We are in the painting phase,” says Shannon Coolahan, one of the student coordinators. “It’s definitely a lot of work, but also extremely rewarding to work together to create something like this for the parade.”
Cara James of Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, paints the deck of the float.