The Group: The Edmonson County [Grades] 5/6 Center PTO, Brownsville, Ky.

The Setting: The county's annual parade and float competition, with a "through the years" retrospective theme.

The Idea: Design an awesome float and bring home a trophy. A parent suggested depicting the American classroom through the past 50 years. Even though she's not the designing type, it sounded like fun to PTO president Carmon Brooks.

What Went Wrong: "The person who came up with the idea quit before the work started," says Brooks. No one else took over, leaving Brooks, the nondesigner, to do it.

What Happened Next: Brooks spent days knee-deep in paste and posters. She consulted yearbooks from the 1950s and illustrated the parade's former business sponsors on the posters she used as the float's skirt. She gathered roofing material and contact paper to create a makeshift blackboard. She even dug up an old wrought-iron desk. But it was the carpet that really stood out. "It was red with black speckles," says Brooks.

The Outcome: "It looked horrible," Brooks reports. So horrible, she says, "the principal wanted to cancel any representation in our parade whatsoever. [So] we just piled in the back of a pickup truck and threw candy." The kicker: "Another school had our design down to a T. I was ready to cry."

Notable Quote: "Most people do not realize how much work has to go into a float," Brooks says. Her advice: "Stay away from chicken wire and tissues....OUCH!"