The Story Behind the Y’s Men Float
by Roy McKay
The 2018 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Float was conceived and designed in 2016. Here is how it come to be:
In January 2016, Mike Guthman, Y’s Men President, gathered a room full of guys who had contributed to past float design and building. We reviewed the winning floats previously built:
Iwo Jima, Washington’s Crossing, Abe Lincoln meeting with Generals on battlefield, WWI Trench Warfare, Korean War patrol on smoking hillside, The Vietnam Wall, WWII Landing Craft and the WWII Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri.
During this brainstorming session, Len Fisher, our art director, suggested the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as the float subject. With Jon Fox’s blessing, it was unanimous.
Mike, Hal Foodman and I gathered pictures of the real Tomb. We decided to make it 7/8th of the real thing – a large item but sized to fit on the flatbed. Hal engineered the construction design.
Mike worked on the decorative pictures and trim on the Tomb – downloading pictures, blowing them up and having them printed. I learned how to faux paint marble. It all came together in my garage during April 2016. Mike and I glued the decorative pictures in place and then faux painted over them to make them blend into the marble. Mike’s grandson, Max, helped faux paint some of the trim.
Fortunately, Hal’s engineering efforts created a very sturdy float, which enabled us to take it apart and re-build it twice given two years of canceled Parades.
Meanwhile, John Brandt recorded the soundtrack and procured the amp and speakers. Brian Strong provided the inverter and Cooper Auto Parts provided the car battery to power the inverter and amp.
Assisting in the construction, de-construction, re-construction, transport and storage in the Gault Barn on South Compo Road were a host of energetic Y’s Men: Neil Coleman and his trailer, Hal Foodman, George Erickson, Bob Fatherley, Marty Yellin, Lou Rolla, Peter Chelico, Tom Douglas, Tom Johnson, Larry Lich, Bob Fox, Jeff Hare, Brian Strong, Jay Dirnberger, John Brandt, Chuck Greenlee, Mike Hehenberger, Randy Abrams, Joel Wasserman, Mike Boyle, Mike Guthman and Max, Blair McCaw, Peter Nathan, Maury Wind, John McManus, Sal Mollica, Bill Blaufuss, Mike Burke, Seth Kaye, Rob Rossi and Rich Pactor. Ted Horowitz was the photographer.
John Brandt organized and choreographed the honor guard. Besides himself, there was Jeff Hare, Sal Porio, Peter Kolbrener, Peter Nathan, Jay Dirnberger, Stu Rogan and Ed Bloch.
The day after the parade, the last screws were removed and the lumber was put back in storage in Gault’s barn. I think it’s fair to say all those who contributed had fun and shared a sense of belonging to a winning team.