The Marche of Alderford (Stark, Carroll, and Tuscarawas Counties in northeastern Ohio) has marched as a "novelty unit" in the Louisville Constitution Day Parade for many years, and has several times received first or second prize in the novelty category. This year, the members of the shire stepped up participation in the small town's week-long celebration of the U.S. Constitution by adding a demo during "lift off" day at the beginning, and adding the dragon float to the parade participation.
"Gar the Dragon" was the brainchild of Lady Cliodhna of Scoon, a relative newcomer to the SCA but one with boundless energy and creativity. Cliodhna enlisted the help of Lord Fohl Dubh, Sargeant Einar Blakklar, Lord GuyJacques, and others for the mechanical frames and fittings, and used her theatrical set design skills to create the dragon's scaly exterior, sculpted head, and realistic mouth. Those who looked closely might notice that the mouth even had an uvula, the small organ that dangles in the throat to trigger the swallowing reflex. (The crowd couldn't see it, but Cliodhna said it was suggested by Baroness Catriona, and seemed a fun extra thing to add!)
Gar was powered, appropriately enough, by a six-wheeled green utility vehicle called a Gator™, made by John Deere. Towed behind the dragon was an eight-foot (2.4 meter) square castle that had originally been built as a children's playhouse for shire events. Baroness Catriona nic Hugh McLaey, Baroness Brendoken, rode in state and waved to crowds from her throne in front of the castle, surrounded by THL Milica of Varna, THL Francesca de Onorati, and M'Lady Allison who played the role of her attending Ladies. The entire parade unit was preceded by a beautiful banner reading "Society for Creative Anachronism" and bearing the SCA heraldic arms, which was made by Lady Meredydd verch Rhys. Lady Meredydd also made the other heraldic banners that adorned the castle or were carried by shire members.
Originally, "Gar the Dragon" was to have breathed smoke thanks to a theatrical fog machine concealed in the Gator, but an electrical problem put the fog machine out of action partway through the parade. That didn't stop the crowd from loving the float, however, and many children shouted "cool dragon!!!" or similar words of praise. SCAtoday.net's Maistor Justinos Tekton, marching beside the castle in armour, invited onlookers to donate "poodles, kittens, or small children" to feed the dragon, and was surprised by how many people volunteered theirs. (No actual poodles, kittens, or small children were harmed in the presentation of this float.)
In addition to those mentioned above, Lady Elaine, Forester Offria Pinkhand, Lady Avril, Avril's infant son, and M'Lord Timothy also rode or marched with the Marche of Alderford. Lady Cliodhna, whose creative muse never seems to take a holiday, is already talking about ways to make Gar even better for next year.
The "original article" link below points to Milica of Varna's photos of the float assembly and presentation. Milica also has online an album of photos from the previous week's demo at the Lift-Off Festival.