On parade floats

Does anyone other than myself think that parade floats are a very strange cultural phenomenon? As a five-year-old I was fascinated by the floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade or in the New Year’s Parade out in Pasadena with all those red roses. My first experience with a float, up close and personal, was a float built by a fraternity from the local college. I got to play with the gold and black crepe paper, which is very cool if you are five. I know that homecoming floats are about school spirit, or that a Thanksgiving Day float is all about Santa Claus, but other than putting some pretty girls or some little kids on a float, I have no idea what the social function of a float is. Are we celebrating something or commemorating something? And if we are, why? One fraternity I know of builds an anti-float, which is just a flatbed truck with a bunch of broken down sofas on it. Would that be the example of an iconoclastic float? Or an anarchy float? I have never built a float, nor do I understand float lore or craft. I suppose floats need to be thematic, have paper mache caricatures of self-important political figures, sport several winsome lasses, threaten the opposing team with some soporific metaphor concerning destruction and loss, and sport the conquering team’s mascot. Or children. Or Santa Claus. Or a strange dancing group. Today I’m even more concerned than ever that I still do not understand the cultural materialism involved in the grotesque manifestation of school, team, or city spirit. Floats are a very public spectacle designed to draw attention to something, but they are still a short-lived, transitory, if not temporary, simulacra of life designed of materials with a limited life-span, so in a real sense, they are ephemera.