SHENANDOAH CAVERNS, Va. -- Ever wonder what happens to those huge
floats used in presidential inaugural parades?
You can see a handful of them at American Celebration on Parade,
an attraction that opened in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley last
The Wyoming float honoring Vice President Richard Cheney is
here. So is the theme float used in this year's parade, the
135-foot-long American Eagle, which had Wayne Newton and Bo Derek
Hargrove Inc., producer of inaugural floats since Harry Truman's
parade in 1949, opened the attraction in a 40,000-square-foot
Billed as the Parade Float Hall of Fame, it features 20 major
floats plus props and settings built by Hargrove for inaugural,
Rose, Thanksgiving and other parades.
Other inaugural-parade floats depict a 60-foot-long American
flag, a colonial soldier, a saxophone-playing band of pelicans and
a 100-foot train.
"The floats are popular with kids," said Marvin Bond, Hargrove's
marketing manager, who added, "We'll have floats coming and going
so we'll always have something new."
According to Bond, the floats cost from $20,000 to $200,000 and
are sometimes recycled and used again.
The American Eagle, for example, has been used in earlier
inaugural parades; a 1900-era trolley on display will be used in
several parades this year.
The Rose Parade, he said, allows floats to be used only
Displays include a 50-foot-high Statue of Liberty that appeared
in last year's Rose Parade and a Polar Bear float that won Rose
Lanham, Md.-based Hargrove is a custom-exhibition and trade show
production company owned by Earl C. Hargrove Jr., who also owns
Shenandoah Caverns, an attraction on an adjoining site acquired in
Visitors take one-hour guided tours of the limestone cavern's 17
chambers. They cover one mile and have been open to the public
Bond said Hargrove had wanted a second attraction for 30 years
and began serious planning five years ago.
Before American Celebration on Parade opened, Shenandoah Caverns
had 60,000 visitors a year. That number is growing, Bond said, with
tickets providing admission to both attractions.
Admission is $17.50 for adults and $7 for those ages 6 through
14. Discounts are available for students and senior citizens.
Bond said motorcoach tour bookings are up more than 50% from a
year ago, with almost all taking in both attractions.
At American Celebration on Parade, visitors can take both guided
and self-guided tours.
Also used for special events, the attraction has been the venue
for wedding receptions and events for such organizations as the
Shenandoah Music Festival and the Shenandoah Valley Travel
American Celebration on Parade is at Caverns Road, three miles
from New Market (exit 269 off Interstate Highway 81). It is open
daily at 9 a.m.
The attraction's new Web site, found at www.americancelebrationonparade.com, features a link
to the caverns' site.
For further information, call (888) 4-CAVERNS.