CPP Rose Float: Where dreams take flight

By Uriel Gonzalez

Cal Poly’s Rose Float Program is a yearly effort between both Cal Poly Pomona and the university’s sister campus, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The giant mass of welded steel and flowers is co-designed and built by student-run clubs on both campuses and subsequently paraded in the renowned Rose Parade.

CPP Rose Float President Jerica Hurtado said, “I thought it was cool to get involved because it’s something bigger than yourself. The outcome is something that millions of people see.”

Every New Year’s Day, tens of millions of people from around the world tune in to witness the iconic event.

According to the Rose Float website, the Rose Parade is broadcasted in 85 countries and more than 200 territories and as a result is viewed by at least 87 million people; in addition, around 700,000 people flock to Pasadena to view the parade in person.

The Rose Parade has become a staple of American culture. Since its inception in 1890, generations upon generations of Americans and people worldwide have joined to witness the spectacle.

Much like the parade has become an American staple, the Cal Poly Rose Float has become a staple of CPP.

The tradition began here at CPP back in 1949 when a student named Don Miller entered the university in the illustrious parade for $258. Since then, Cal Poly students have been restless year after year, pushing the envelope to keep the tradition alive and exemplifying the school motto “Learn by Doing.”

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Lead Structural Welder and public relations team member Marie Scholl said, “One of the main reasons we have lasted so long is that everyone who has been an active member does this because they love doing it.”

The yearly construction of the rose float has been among the oldest CPP traditions, now nearing its 70th anniversary. Throughout CPP’s long history building floats, generations of students have amassed 57 awards collectively for theme, animation and decoration due to their sheer passion for the craft.

While taking part in a massive project like the rose float may seem daunting, all students regardless of background or experience are encouraged to take part in the float-building process. Every fall quarter, the CPP Rose Float Club holds a newcomer’s picnic where students interested in the club can get involved. From then on, students can develop skills in animation, welding, hydraulics, automotive maintenance, machining, floral design and fostering long-lasting friendships.

“It is really different. It’s something anyone can take up, a great learning experience, you meet new people, everyone basically becomes family,” said Scholl.

Every January, Cal Poly’s Rose Float Program holds a concept contest; this contest marks the beginning of the rose float process. Here, anyone can submit a black and white drawing for consideration regardless of artistic finesse; the focus lies in the concept itself. Once the winning concept is chosen, both Cal Poly campuses work together to finalize a design.

Taking part in Cal Poly’s Rose Float Program is a lengthy commitment; the rose float process spans 15 months. The process begins in January when the concept contest starts and ends in March of the following year when the next float chassis is ready.

Despite requiring hard work, patience and creativity, the overwhelming sentiment of club members is that the rose float program is a once in a lifetime experience to build relationships with fellow students, gain unmeasured skill and, most importantly, leave your mark on history.

Design of the 2018 Cal Poly Rose Float entry, "Dreams Take Flight"

Courtesy of CPP Rose Float Club

Design of the 2018 Cal Poly Rose Float entry, “Dreams Take Flight”

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