For the past 70 years, a group of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly Pomona students have joined together on New Year’s Day to watch their hard work come to life. By combining nature and technology, Cal Poly students create floral masterpieces that are shown annually at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.
Since Cal Poly began building floats for the Rose Parade in 1949, the team has won more than 50 awards, ranging from the Bob Hope Humor Award in 1949 to the Founders’ Trophy in 2017.
This year, the Cal Poly Rose Float team added “Most Outstanding Innovation in the Use of Floral and Non-floral Materials,” to their trophy collection, according to a Cal Poly press release.
The theme of the 2018 Rose Parade was “Making a Difference” and Cal Poly’s float was named “Dreams Take Flight.”
“Dreams Take Flight” was the largest self-built float in Cal Poly’s history. It featured three baby animals — a koala, an otter and a red panda — in airplanes. The float design represents Cal Poly’s adventurous, young spirit and the Learn by Doing mentality that the Cal Polys are known for.
The float was decorated with an estimated 42,000 stems. Roses, gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums were the primary flowers, and a majority of the flowers were California-grown, according to the press release.
As for mechanics, Cal Poly students used flaps, rudders, ailerons and elevators to make it seem as though the clouds beneath the airplanes were moving. The team also made sure the animals’ heads could move from side to side for the audience to see.
Mechanical engineering senior and Rose Float president Ali Harake explained during a question-and-answer press release what it is like to see the Cal Poly float in the parade.
“My favorite thing is the moment when the Cal Poly float rounds TV corner. The split-second when my heart starts racing and the Cal Poly stands are already on their feet chanting. It’s an unexplainable feeling,” Harake said.