NEW PORT RICHEY — Their first instinct was Justin Bieber.
The folks at Farrell Roofing thought a float designed around the teen heartthrob would be a huge hit at the New Port Richey Holiday Parade. They even envisioned topping it off with a crooning Bieber look-alike.
Then they worried that children might bombard the stage in their excitement and risk getting run over by the float. So they opted for a tamer entry for tonight's parade:
"We wanted something kid-friendly, of course, and everybody relates to Sesame Street," said Regan Weiss, marketing project manager at Farrell Roofing.
The float is one of about 130 entries in the parade, which kicks off at 6 p.m. in downtown New Port Richey.
The company has worked long hours over the past few weekends to bring Sesame Street to Main Street. The float features a nest for Big Bird made out of straw and Christmas tree branches, a motorized spinning cookie jar for Cookie Monster and a separate trash can float for Oscar the Grouch. Actors will be dressed as popular characters, and the speakers will blare a recording of Elmo saying, "Merry Christmas, New Port Richey!"
Steve Farrell, owner of Farrell Roofing, did most of the construction over the past six weeks with a half-dozen helpers. Robert Scott is the in-house architect responsible for synchronizing the music with the lighting on the float. Along with the Sesame Street theme song and Christmas carols, the float will play hits by Bieber, Maroon 5 and LMFAO.
Beyond getting its company name out there, Farrell Roofing views the parade as a way to give back to the community. Last year, Farrell Roofing did a Smurf house float, which it subsequently donated to Tanglewood Learning Center as a playhouse. Another year, the company created a Peter Pan float, featuring Peter Pan flying above the float supported by a crane.
"There's no other way for Steve Farrell," Weiss said. "It's either go all in or don't do it at all."
Samantha Fuchs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6235.