New FIRST Promotional Idea

So… Thanksgiving morning, I had to drag my butt out of bed and trek to NH to visit with some relatives. Before we left, I turned on my TV and (of course) watched some of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

As I stuffed my mouth with an apple cider donut, and watched some crazy dancy troupe twirling scarves (as Al Roker described the HUGE number of viewers tuning in to watch) it hit me…

How cool would it be for FIRST to have a float in the parade?
Instant national attention. Millions of sleepy turkey eaters hearing Katie Couric and Matt Lauer oooo and ahhhh in faux excitement.

Ya figure, SOMEBODY would take notice.

What if there was a "float"ing FIRST field.
On top, several robots could play out matches over and over for spectactors.
Some of the Macy’s floatsapproach FIRST field-sized proportions.

Or possibly, the National Champions could present their machines, and walk the parade route. Better yet… with a quick donation from our generous founder… we could have the national champions SEGWAY the parade route.
That might turn a few heads!

Lots of possibilities here.
So… I have no idea how we could make this happen.
If we wanted to do this for Turkey-day 2005, how would we go about it?

Anyone have insight? Thoughts? Comments?


Sounds like a concept. Just get a big ol’ flatbed and let the fun begin.

One thing…if the balls (or whatever we have next year) went out of the field, how on EARTH are you going to catch back up and get them into the field for the next match? I presume that the float would have to haul some moderate to heavy butt at some point in the route.

I was part of the few who didn’t bother to watch the parade (too much housework to do), but this would be a wonderful idea. Promotion is always great- this could also allow FIRST’s sponsors to get air-time and some free goodwill points to their reputations. Tech-fancy machines would get so much attention from the spectators, and it would be nice to show all those people what robotics can be about.

As Billfred stated, ball would be a minor inconvenience, especially when they ended up in the spectators- that would surely attract their attention to the FIRST float. Field size might be a bit large for this. Maybe a 3/4 field? There would need to be room for the ‘pits,’ and the all-important battery stations. But as tests have show, the human eye notices two things most: moving objects and vivid color.

As if the float wasn’t enough, this would be the crazy added into the idea :smiley:
An army of robot builders on segways. Maybe I exagerated that… a battalion? company? squadron? anywhoo…
This would be an excellent means for FIRST promotion and recognition, but then comes the issue of geographics- who has room to build this? and who will build it?
FIRST Float planning commission anyone?


I’m sure a few CD’ers would gladly design the float for free. And I’m definitely sure a sponsor would put in the dollars needed to make it and put in the parade in return for the advertising.

wow, now that is the greatest idea i have heard in awhile. That is def something that could be done. …gosh i wish i could come up with ideas like that

That is an awesome idea. I know some teams already participate in Thanksgiving/Christmas parades, like mine did yesterday. Definetly would be a great way of promoting FIRST.


A float in the Thanksgiving Day parade called America’s Parade in downtown Detroit was kicked around awhile back - the circumstances didn’t pan out or warrant the effort. Maybe things are run differently in NY, but without a sponsor absorbing the costs it wasn’t plausible.
As far as promoting FIRST with the float goes, I think the cost expended for TV airtime wasn’t very good considering how long the float and commentators discuss each float. I think the airtime is a relatively short amount - if the goal is to be on the national broadcast - it gets even more complicated when you factor in the position of the float in the parade, ect. All in All, I wish you Good luck though.

Actually, air time varies, the parade doesn’t play on at the exact same time on every network. You start on one network watch a portion of the parade, advertisements come on, the viewer gets bored, and you flip channels as the second network is showing the same portion of the parade again. (Just an example.)

Also, the Macy’s day parade is comparable to Penn State’s Homecoming Parade. With that said - a 4+ hour parade route might be a little lengthy for the National Champions. Maybe this will be opened up to all award winners as a special invitation only even by FIRST?

All in all… excellent idea!

Mrs. Foos was going to have us design a float for the Rochester teams to participate in the Memorial Day parade.

I can just imagine now a huge Dean Kamen float being brough down and pulled through the streets by all these FIRST people…

WOODY: “Bring him down guys! He’s getting a little hot headed!”
Baker: “We need Mike!”
Big Mike: “I’m on it!”

The broadcast was from 9am -12 pm, right? That’s 180 minutes of air time.
In the USA, for every 30 minutes of television, there is about 22 min of actual broadcast, with 8 minutes of commercials. For a 3 hour bit, that’s 132 minutes of televised parade time.
27 floats and 22 non-floats (bands & special groups) = 49 attractions
132 minutes/49 attractions = 2.69 minutes per attraction, not including the introduction for each attraction. (This is assuming that all are shown, and for equal amounts of time, which is not the case). What I’m dying to know is the pricing structure, which is probably based on air time.

Also, it all comes back to the TV-friendly Theory. Something similar to 2001 is a tad harder to explain in a 15 second promo. Thus, the only really possible option is to just show the robots running around. In my experience in Watertown’s Memorial Parade events (the Watertown Rotary has donated their float space to 237 since 2000), the offensive bots are much more of a crowd pleaser than the defensives. (To answer Billfred’s question, you have people designated to catch the balls that are walking on the sides of the field).

So, anyway…nice idea, but not entirely plausible for a non-profit of FIRST’s size without major corporate sponsorship, not to mention the issues we run into depending on which way Dean runs with the game. But all in all a cool idea.

Curse you and your logic! :stuck_out_tongue:

As with many of my lofty ideas, this one is apparently infeasible.

Still, if anyone finds a way to make this happen I say, “Go for it!”

Thank you for your feedback.



Don’t give up so quickly!
A great idea born and dead in just 3 days!

Keep the thoughts coming and maybe a way will come thru!

It’s not infeasible. It’s just a matter of finding the right sponsor.

The majority of the companies already sponsoring time in the parade are either consumer products or entertainment-driven. Sure, FIRST is a little light in the entertainment & consumer-products area, but we’ve got a lot of large sponsors that could qualify: Kimberly Clark, J & J, Mattel Inc (through Fisher-Price), TI, Microsoft, Xerox…it would be a matter of working those contacts on a very high level.

But that’s not really anything we can really control. So, as I said, cool idea, and rather difficult to implement without major corporate sponsorship and a lot of variables answered, but not totally off-base.

It is a great idea with great points brought up on both sides. I would say that a few people may be able to make this happen if they want it to. If someone comes up with a decent proposal and presents it to FIRST, who knows what they could do. Especially if it gets to Dean and he likes the idea.

However, to get this done, a group of people would need to focus on making it happen otherwise it won’t.

It was brought up that explaining the game would be a bit difficult. I don’t think FIRST is about any specific game, so why constrain the idea to any year’s game? Have a simpler field, simpler goal maybe? Or maybe it’s a balloon instead - a gigantic FIRST logo :slight_smile:

Either way, here’s another idea (or a wrench in the gears): What if it was interactive? The floats stop at times - pick up a few drivers and/or players - let them drive and play the game. Again, it’d have to be simple. And of course everyone is going to scream “you can’t do it…to dangerous.” I think if the game is simpler and the right precautions are taken, it’s feasible, although still a crazy idea. But imagine if they got those boring (IMHO) announcers off that stand and down on the float to play a round or two :slight_smile:

What if you had prepicked audience members? I realize that takes away from the non-FIRST ers interacting with the robots, but it increases safety AND makes it seem like any random person can be in FIRST, which is what FIRST is about …

But that might be considered lying for some people …

Its a great Idea for teh entire world)not just US) to get interested in FIRST!

So just a question of the obvious: Priorities to making this work:
Forming a group to communicate? Sponsors? Presentation of the idea to FIRST?
Personally, I would first somehow create a manageable group for communication, and after a fairly detailed concept plan is created I would then want to notify FIRST of this idea and maybe ask for their guidance, regulations, recommendations, etc. It’s a wonderful idea, but If a floating field in NY is too grandiose for an initial turkey day FIRST party, where else could we start?

359 days left to work with if this should be a reality for 2005.