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How to Keep the 'Shoebox Float Tradition' Going in Your Home

Just like a Sunday second-line or making groceries at Winn Dixie, shoebox floats are a New Orleans ritual. Everyone that grew up in the New Orleans area knows all about the shoebox float tradition! It is duly your chance to express yourself through art while also admiring a friend’s masterpiece.

I remember vividly making my shoebox float in elementary school with my favorite toys. It was like a symbolization of the start of a good time with family and friends... and also a vacation from school! As a pre-Katrina baby, Mardi Gras definitely hit different back then. It’s crazy how one experience could bring back so much nostalgia.

It is an honor to work at a school that is keeping the tradition alive for our scholars. Every year students have the opportunity to submit a shoebox float to our school-wide Shoebox Float Competition. Students have gotten really creative since our first competition in 2021. This year we had our biggest turnout with over 100 entries. Our students don’t know how much it means to see them contribute to the longevity of a tradition that symbolizes so much nostalgia from a time period we all deeply love.

Click image to enlarge.

Shoebox floats can be easy home DIY projects for the kids during the Mardi Gras season. The best floats are the ones that are made from items around the house. Get creative with using old toys, art supplies, wrapping paper, and pictures. (Below is a list of materials to create a shoebox float at home.)

Photos submitted by BNOM Contributor @BirthingW.AVibe

Here are some quick and simple instructions to keep the Shoebox Float Tradition going at your home.

You'll need:

  • A shoebox

  • Wrapping paper

  • Tape

  • Small decorations (feathers, glitter, pipe cleaners, etc)

  • Optional: Action figures and/or dolls

Simple 3-Step Instructions:

  1. Wrap the shoebox with wrapping paper or recycled brown paper bags.

  2. Connect shoebox lids to the short side of the shoebox

  3. Decorate the shoebox to your liking!

Did you grow up with the tradition of making Shoebox Floats at your school? Let us know in the comments!


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