Float soars with humor

By Michaela Ard

Five hundred hours of labor and thousands of volunteers go into the creation of one project every single year: the Cal Poly Rose Float.

Jan. 1, 2013 will welcome the new year and the new float manufactured by students from the Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Rose Float Clubs.

The two universities collaborate year round to render the massive vehicle.

“We start working on the float almost immediately after we are done working on last year’s float,” said Construction Chair Derek Sorenson, a fifth-year electrical engineering student.

According to President Karissa Perez, a fourth-year liberal studies student, the float’s theme, “Penguins Learning to Fly,” coincides with the overall concept of the parade, the Dr. Seuss inspired “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

The design features a penguin, attached to propellers and jet packs, preparing to glide down a ramp. A penguin professor and penguin students in a flight class join the ensemble as well.

“It is like the message of following your dreams and being able to overcome obstacles in your life,” said Perez. “I think it’s just a fun and creative idea that . . .can apply to all ages. Everyone will enjoy it and get a kick out of it.”

The theme came from a concept contest in which anyone could submit his or her idea on a float design. The officers in the Rose Float then voted on their favorite submission.

The float, named “Tuxedo Air,” will be 45 feet long and 18 feet wide, and it is composed of two separate halves, each with its own engine controlling either the driving force of the float or the animatronics of the various penguin pieces.

“It is kind of over-the-top, but that’s what we do,” said fourth-year Business Administration student Erin Hines, who is also the committee chair of the Rose Float Club. “The penguins want to fly, but they can’t fly normally, so it is kind of humorous.”

Cal Poly SLO manages the driving mechanics of the float, whereas CPP works on the animation sections. According to Sorenson, each campus works independently for seven to eight months, and then the two come together at the end of October in Pomona to finalize the creation.

The design of the float may center on the black and white penguins, but it also offers an array of colors and natural materials, such as onion seeds, status flowers, peas, roses and daisies.

Unlike previous years in which the animation focused on large props, “Tuxedo Air” will instead incorporate smaller animated accents, such as the moving wings on the penguins, said Hines.

The floral float has been a tradition at the Cal Poly Universities for over 60 years, and according to Hines, it continues to offer great opportunities for students of all years and majors.

“It’s a great experience to get involved in something that has been around for so long,” said Hines. “It’s just a great way to apply what you are learning in the classroom in something that’s meaningful.”

The entire rose float process requires hundreds of hours and resources, but according to Perez, it is well worth the time and effort.

“I guess the best part [of the Rose Float] is the friendships you make and experiences you gain, whether they are leadership skills or communication skills,” said Perez. “It definitely changed my life for the better.”

Rose Float

Courtesy Karissa Perez

Rose Float

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