Fifteen pounds of glitter? Check. Sparkly blue-plastic fringe? Check. Giant purple octopus with terrifying tentacles devouring a sinking...

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Fifteen pounds of glitter? Check.

Sparkly blue-plastic fringe? Check.

Giant purple octopus with terrifying tentacles devouring a sinking ship? Check.

It’s West Seattle’s sea-themed float, and it’s ready to cast off for today’s Seafair Torchlight Parade, a Seattle tradition for 58 years that is expected to draw more than 300,000 spectators.

The float, assembled by the West Seattle Hi-Yu, a community group that coordinates neighborhood festivals, is one of about 20 floats, 10 oversize balloons and a handful of performance groups from around the globe set to take part in today’s parade.

The parade starts at 7:30 p.m. with the coronation of Miss Seafair and will proceed along Fourth Avenue, traveling 2.5 miles for about two hours.

Streets around the event, including Fourth Avenue, the northbound lanes of Alaskan Way, and parts of Denny Way and Broad Street will be closed for much of the day.

The Torchlight Run starts at 6 p.m. on Occidental Avenue near Qwest Field, and finishes there when the last runner returns. Last year, about 2,500 runners competed.

In West Seattle, Tim Winston, president of West Seattle Hi-Yu, said about 20 people worked on the float over a few months. It’s been in eight area parades so far.

“You have to think outside the box,” he said of the design. “It has to be lighter and long-lasting.”

One unexpected ingredient is fabric-softener sheets, which provide texture for the clams and pearls. They’re molded over the Styrofoam and then painted.

Underneath it all is a 1967 Buick Roadmaster that overheats on hot asphalt and gets atrocious gas mileage. According to Winston, West Seattle is now the only Seattle neighborhood that still enters a float in the Torchlight Parade.

“We’ve always managed to find a few determined people that weren’t going to let it go away,” he said.

Meanwhile, Seattle police were beefing up staffing for the event, which has seen incidents of violence in the past, including fatal shootings and stabbings.

Debra Brown, a police spokeswoman, said people should show up early and be prepared for big crowds and heavy traffic. Overall, Brown noted, “this is traditionally a pretty safe, family-friendly event.”

Mona Locke, wife of former Gov. Gary Locke, will don the red cape and sparkling crown of Queen Alcyone to crown Miss Seafair 2007.

She said she has done many parades as the state’s first lady and on the campaign trail for her husband, but never as a queen.

“So I’m excited,” she said. “It’s one of our favorite parades. A lot of pomp and circumstance goes with it, and I was really honored and surprised.”

Roxana Popescu: 206-464-2112 or