The Department of Corrections' Float Created Through Partnership Aimed at Keeping the Art of Float Building Alive
This year, the Department of Corrections’ float won first place in the Natural Heritage Float category, as well as the Premier’s Award for Best Float in the Bermuda Day Parade.
The float, which celebrates many of Bermuda's top athletes, was created through a targeted workshop program in collaboration with the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, aimed at passing on the craft of float building.
The float building project teaches teamwork, commitment, work ethics, leadership skills, instructional learning, and the basics of building a float to inmates.
"The majority of the participants have never built a float before, therefore this is a new learning experience for them," said the Director of Community and Cultural Affairs Heather Whalen. "As this is a skill and tradition that has been waning in Bermuda in recent years, this program presented a tremendous opportunity to ensure that the legacy of float building does not disappear."
All participants that register for the float building project must meet certain selection criteria and must attend their academic courses, treatment programs, work release, or in-house jobs before coming to work on the float each day.
Float building participants possess a variety of skills; many are carpenters, mechanics, art students, and some complete novices. They are split into three groups based on their skills and interests: designers, builders, and decorators.
The participants met regularly to brainstorm design ideas after the selection process was finalized.
"The participants are highly motivated, and eager to produce a high-quality float to represent the Department of Corrections," said Yvette Brown, a social worker at the Department of Corrections. "They also really enjoy receiving feedback from the general public, which makes the float building project worthwhile."
Over the years, the Department of Corrections has built two different types of floats: car and 'flatbed'.
"There are challenges with both types, including ensuring accurate measurements, balance, design, and selection of materials," explained Ms Brown. "We use plants, beans, paper mache, dried flowers, recyclables, or sawdust. A sketch is made and then the items are colour-coded. Island Construction has greatly assisted the Department of Corrections with transporting the flatbed each year and we are very grateful for the partnership."
The Department of Corrections' float has four main elements this year:
- Celebrating cycle riders: Flora Duffy (triathlon), Dominique Mayo, and Jessica Lewis (para-Olympian).
- Celebrating the longest-running comet race: The Edward Cross Long Distance Comet Race.
- Celebrating Cup Match cricket: St. George’s Cricket Club cricketer Delray Rawlins and Janeiro Tucker are featured.
- The float also has a mural with nine athlete portraits.
"We have captured the young-at-heart as well as Bermuda’s youth," explained Ms Brown. "The mural is painted by an art student who is receiving tutelage from Mr. Lester Harnett. It is spectacular!"
Portraits include Clarence Hill, Roy-Allan Burch, Flora Duffy, Teresa Perozzi, Clarence "Nicky" Saunders, Nahki Wells, Delray Rawlins, Clyde Best and Nikki Bascome.
In addition, the float has portraits (made from beans and coloured rice) of athletes such as Tucker Murphy, Dwayne “Sluggo” Leverock, Patrick Singleton and others; as well as silhouettes in coloured sawdust capturing Vanessa James, "Skipper" Ingham, Clarence Hill, Katura Horton-Perinchief and others.