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Floating building a family business for Middle Georgia man

YKK+employees+wave+from+the+top+of+a+float+at+the+Cherry+Blossom+Festival.
YKK employees wave from the top of a float at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

YKK employees wave from the top of a float at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Marianna Bacallao

Marianna Bacallao

YKK employees wave from the top of a float at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

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Parades are float after float of colorful decorations. There are Christmas parades, St. Patrick’s Day parades and Macon even has its own Cherry Blossom Parade. In Middle Georgia, one man constructs these floats for a living.

For Kip Dingler, building parade floats is in his blood.

“This was my dad’s business, he started in the mid 50’s and of course passed away. Jan. 1 of 1981 I just took over,” Dingler said, seated on a Cherry Blossom float in his Bolingbroke warehouse.

Dingler has worked as a float builder for 36 years. His family settled in the Middle Georgia area after his father’s 15-year career in the circus.

Originally, Dingler had no interest in the family business. He attended the University of Florida, where he received a scholarship for pole vaulting, and intended to work as a track and field coach, according to his website.

After Dingler’s father passed away, he returned to the float building life.

“I had other aspirations, but after he passed away, my mom asked me to try it just for a little while and see if i’d like it,” Dingler said. “I have grown to love it.”

One reason Dingler loves float building is because it allows him to spend time with his daughter, Carson, a competitive pole vaulter herself.

“When she was growing up, we traveled all over the United States. We’ve been to Germany, Poland and South America for her pole vaulting,” Dingler said.

Most of Dingler’s workflow occurs in October, November and December. Lately, Dingler said he has been working on St. Patrick’s Day floats as well as floats for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

“I’ll probably sleep 15 hours for the week, but next week, I have nothing to do. In fact, we’re going to Texas to see Carson,” he said.

The floats are constructed from farm wagons, and then the sponsor can select what basic design or theme they would like, Dingler said.

Dingler’s large float and supply warehouse includes a giant dragon, a spinning world, reindeer Dingler’s father made, as well as a velociraptor. The numerous props Dingler owns have overflowed his warehouse, causing him to fill a cargo container in addition to his space.

Dingler purchases some props, but he said he also makes some by hand using paper maché. One example is a mouse riding a unicycle that has a spinning globe and uses a hidden mechanical component.

Dingler’s floats cost $800 to rent while custom designed floats start at $6,500.

If you’ve attended the Macon Cherry Blossom Festival, then you have seen Dingler’s work. Since he took over the business, Dingler said he has had floats in the parade every year.

Dingler is now the “certified” float builder for the festival, according to the Cherry Blossom Festival Website.

We are proud to have his talents represented in our parade,” Hannah Moore, marketing and sponsorship coordinator for the Cherry Blossom Festival said. “He and his talents are well-known in Macon, so it was a perfect match.”

After making almost half a million parade floats, Dingler said he hopes to retire soon, but he said he has enjoyed his time as Middle Georgia’s float builder and the life it has given him.

I do (it). I like the challenge,” Dingler said.  

 

Editor’s note 4/4/2018: This story previously featured a photograph of the float for Alexander II. However, this float was not constructed by Dingler– it was constructed by Alexander II — so we have replaced the featured image with a float that was constructed by Dingler. 

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Floating building a family business for Middle Georgia man