Steveston SalmonFest 2021 Behind the Scenes – The Japanese Benevolent Society Float

Hey parade lovers! I know what floats your boats! It’s… floats! We put a large range of float types in our digital parade, which you can check out below!

We did a large character float (Sammy), a stylized environment float (the Cannery), several floats designed to look like boats, and the necessary fire engines festooned with flowers. All of these are big energy, big fun, loud music/noise sort of floats, and we wanted to have something that was different in there too. Something that was more inspired by the parade floats of yesteryear, in the Rose Bowl parade, or the Macy’s, where if you weren’t close enough to the marching band, you didn’t have any music. Many of those floats were handcrafted out of flowers tied onto wire frames, and were serious works of art and ingenuity.

There are thousands of images to go ogle, and plenty of modern examples too. So naturally, we had to do at least one parade float that put flowers first. We also wanted it to be a little classy. Not saying that the rest of what we did wasn’t classy, just that we wanted this one to stand out.

The Japanese Benevolent Society in Steveston is a community-building organization, responsible for critical infrastructure in the region, like the Japanese Hospital and Japanese Language School. Here’s a quote from

“The Japanese Hospital itself was built in response typhoid fever epidemics, which were an annual scourge during the last years of the 19th century. The hospital was completed in 1900 at a cost of $1,800 and contained a large ward of 30 beds, two private rooms and a small surgery. Although built and funded by the Japanese community, it was open to everyone in Steveston.”

If I could build a hospital right now for $1,800, I’d do it. Can you imagine?

The first post in this series, and the opening of our video, covered the Nikkei Memorial, which honours the perseverance of the Japanese Community in Steveston, despite being driven from their homes because of their heritage. The Memorial and the Benevolent Society both speak of people who, in spite of everything, put their focus into building up the community around them. They saw past lines of division, and walls, and foolish discrimination, and built. Thank you. Where on Earth would we be without people like you? We hope our little Lego creation honours you in some way.

Hey driver! The minifigs here are all sort of random. They’re from an older collection I picked up years ago, all except for the driver’s head and hair. Both newer, from the Lego store’s pick-a-part bins. The hair is a really cool newer style that also appears in the Lego ‘Everyone is Awesome’ Pride monument. We built that one too! I actually didn’t realize until very recently that the gardener on the right has what appears to be a pistol tucked in his belt. We’ve decided it’s actually a hose attachment for watering plants that just has an unfortunate design.

Looking at the rear of the float, you can see we went heavy on stylization. Even though we wanted a very floral, classical float, it seemed appropriate to borrow heavily from Japanese Pop Art as well. We got a small promo Dots set from the Lego Store, and combined with parts from their part wall, were able to assemble the shapes and colours seen here.

The smiling trees and graphical flowers are a nod to forms of Japanese art that embrace anthropomorphism and geometry. There is often a tension between structure and playfulness, something that could be said of most Lego creations as well.

The pink blossoms suggested both cherry trees and plum trees, and the parade fell somewhere in the middle of those two seasons. We decided they could be cherry blossoms, and used that transition as part of the theme of our design. The big grey square piece with all the flowers on it is actually from a Megablocks Halo set.

We chose to represent a flowing river as the body of the float, with the cherry blossoms traveling along it, as a metaphor for transition, change of seasons, and the beauty of nature.

In the overhead, you can see more red, yellow and pink flowers everywhere. The little flower trios, on the green 3-pronged stem piece, are an older design not seen very often anymore. We don’t have many, and most went into the float. The single blossoms near the driver, and held by the left side gardener, are of the newer variety. We got those from a small Lego Friends set. The pink blossoms were in the part wall at the Lego Store. What luck! The little beige fasteners were there too, and the staff showed us we could combine the two to mount flowers on our floats easily.

At the rear of the float, we can see some potted blossoms. Even though we can see the ‘backs’ or ‘bottoms’ of a lot of the pieces here, I still quite like the shapes and colours. The blue piece with the railing is not Lego, but from a compatible set. Probably Megablocks.

Everytime I look at this float, I see something else about it that I didn’t see before. I’m so happy with how it turned out. The colours, the shapes, and the feel of it just worked out. Hope you liked it just as much! Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply