The Cal Poly Rose Float won the Viewer’s Choice Award as well as the Fantasy Award at the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. Of the 44,730 votes cast, Cal Poly’s float received 10,802, earning Cal Poly its third consecutive Viewer’s Choice Award.

The Galactic Expedition, Cal Poly's Rose Parade Float, won the Viewer's Choice Award, marking the third consecutive year Cal Poly has won the award. The float also won the Fantasy Award for creativity in displaying fantasy and imagination. Courtesy photo.

“It’s a three-peat,” mechanical engineering junior and Rose Float committee member Laura McDonald said of their success.

Rose Float adviser Josh D’Acquisto said the Viewer’s Choice Award has existed for three years and Cal Poly has won all three.

Program leader and mechanical engineering senior Matt Mastro said winning the award was a testament to the support both universities receive from students and alumni.

“Winning it once was great, then twice was amazing, but three times is something really special,” he said.

The float was awarded the Fantasy Award for their creativity in displaying fantasy and imagination.

Cheers erupted from Rose Float committee members when McDonald announced in a post-parade meeting that they “are the first team to ever win two awards in one parade, and we’ve done that twice.”

D’Acquisto said the Fantasy Award is a special honor because it is the only award in which Cal Poly’s entirely student-built float competes with professionally built ones.

“There are people who are in the business of float building,” he said. “Their career is building floats specifically for the Tournament of Roses Parade.”

Cal Poly’s float is one of six “self-built” floats, and the only student-built float in the parade.

The float featured moving children building a rocket ship, a moving crane and spinning planet. The ship was said to take the children’s imaginations to new heights. The float held more than 12,000 roses, 8,500 mums and 9,500 carnations.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo collaborates with Cal Poly Pomona and each school creates half of the float.  In October, the two parts are united in Pomona and then transported to Pasadena, where they are decorated with the flowers the week prior to the parade.

McDonald said working with Pomona has taught her how to collaborate with people of varying leadership abilities.

“You gain a lot of personal relationships,” she said. “You learn a lot about different people and different leadership characteristics.”

The committee of about 20 people started working on the float in April and spent roughly 1,000 hours on it.

“We definitely had some 20-hour days,” McDonald said.

In addition to the committee there are anywhere from 10 to 100 volunteers who assist in the design, decoration and construction of the float.

“During deco week, we get about 100 people out to help us,” McDonald said.

McDonald said she felt very proud of the float and her team for the awards they received, and the highlight of working on the float is the relationships she builds with fellow students.

“It’s a team of creative people working toward the same goal,” she said. “That’s pretty great.”

Currently the committee is accepting submissions for the concept contest, which helps them choose the theme. Anyone is able to submit an idea for a float, and the committee votes on all the submissions. The committee then submits its top five theme ideas to the Tournament of Roses board, which will release the theme for 2012’s float by the end of February, D’Acquisto said.

Both McDonald and D’Acquisto encouraged any students interested to become involved. But, D’Acquisto said, the Rose Float is a year-round commitment.

“We’re starting right now on the 2012 float,” he said. “It truly takes a year to put it all together. There are so many aspects of it, I think that might surprise some students.”

The Rose Float is open to any and all students, regardless of major.

“About half of us are engineers,” McDonald said. “But there is a pretty good mix. I just want everyone to know that it’s not a major-specific thing at all. We want everyone to participate.”

Mastro said now is a better time than ever to get involved.

The Rose Float office is downstairs in the UU, next to the Craft Center and across from the Poly Escapes office.

There will be an informational meeting on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. in the University Union.

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