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Float Builders Look Forward To Fantasy in LIghts Parade

By HEATHER ZIEGLER

Associate City Editor

NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio — No holiday parade would be much of a parade without the dazzle and beauty of floats.

And no one does holidays floats better than Mark Aksterowicz and Bob Starkey who operate Creative Floats in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Just ask them.

This family business makes floats for Christmas parades and every other type of celebration — from the Cleveland Cavaliers national championship to Fourth of July events. Last year, the business produced floats for 102 parades from New York to Chicago and places in between — including Wheeling.

Aksterowicz and Starkey have been in the float business for more than 60 years, starting with Ed Quillen with Custom Floats. Through the years, the business evolved into Creative Floats.

Creative Floats workers scrambled to assemble three floats in two days for a parade to honor the Cavaliers.

But it’s definitely the Fantasy in Lights parade in Wheeling that gets his staff perking along with ideas to brighten each of the lighted floats. This year, Creative Floats is in the process of making 18 floats that will cruise along the streets of Wheeling during the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery Fantasy in Lights Parade set for 6:30 p.m. Friday.

“Carpet Showcase has us doing a Harry Potter theme float. I think everyone will like this,” Aksterowicz said.

Each float, designed and built inside Creative Floats’ huge warehouse in New Philadelphia, contains beween 3,000 and 5,000 lights to brighten up the nighttime parade, Aksterowicz said.

He said McDonald’s restaurant also will have a larger-than-life float in the Wheeling parade. It consists of a 32-foot long gazebo with “lots of lights.” Aksterowicz said it requires a large generator to bring it to life.

Aksterowicz said his clients give him ideas and then they just go with it. When completed, the floats are brought to Wheeling and Aksterowicz and his workers set up the floats and make sure everything is running smoothly on parade night.

“This is the best job in the world … building and designing floats and then traveling to different places. This business has taken off like crazy.”

He noted that the weather has been so nice and he hopes it will remain that way when he and his staff begin delivering the floats to Wheeling on Nov. 17. The location of the floats remains under wraps to make sure parade goers will be surprised and delighted on parade night.

Two years ago, Creative Floats experienced a fire at one of its facilities but it did not hamper the company’s ability to produce floats. Aksterowicz said family members pitched in and delivered 22 floats in five weeks.

Aksterowicz said the Wheeling Fantasy in Lights parade has been a longtime favorite for his staff as people are definitely friendly and welcoming.

“The crowd involvement and excitement is great. A lot of people from our area drive to this parade. This is a highlight parade for us.”

Creative Floats provides floats for the areas of Ohio, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and surrounding areas.

For more information about Creative Floats, call 330-432-3449.

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