The Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day is always a spectacular celebration to start the year off right, filled with floral floats and marching bands.

This year marks the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade. Cal Poly Pomona will be represented with the Cal Poly Universities joint float, which will be its 71st float submission.

“The fact that we lead the front of our float with a 16-foot astronaut, built with three machines to move it, such as it tapping its foot and strumming a guitar, is enough to say that this year’s float will be memorable,” said Elijah Koerner, president of the Rose Float Program and a fourth-year mechanical engineering student.

This year’s parade theme is “The Melody of Life.” The Cal Poly float is going to embrace that theme with an intergalactic twist, in its “Far Out Frequencies” design.

“The general story of our float (is) that two astronauts are traveling through space and happen upon some friendly aliens. Without a common language, they use music as a form of communication,” Koerner said.

The 2019 rose float’s progress, with a finished float pod, anticipates its colorful decorations. (Courtesy of Elijah Koerner)

The Cal Poly Universities floats are all well-received. Last year’s float won an award: the Past Presidents Trophy for most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials.

“We are the only student-built float in the parade and one of (a) few volunteer-built floats,” said Summer Blanco, decoration chair of the Rose Float Program and a fourth-year biology student. “It’s a huge joint effort from our community and to sit on the sidelines and see it during the parade is going to be an amazing experience. To see it come to life on front of us as a culmination of a year of hard work makes you so proud to see what you were a part of.”

The “Far Out Frequencies” float has 10 different mechanisms built in it. These mechanical elements allow aspects of the float to move as the float goes down Colorado Boulevard.

The building of the float has been steadily progressing.

“We just finished the pod, which is the general framing of the float,” Koerner said. “We then spray foam which does the overall shaping. With the foam, we can then attach and connect flower vials.”

The vials are where the fresh flowers are placed days before the parade during decoration week.

The vials are filled with water to keep the flowers as fresh and colorful as possible as it goes down the parade route.

“This year we got a thousand sign-ups in 72 hours for decoration week,” Blanco said. “It’s a high-intensity week where people can glue organic material, or do more specialized things like cut carnation petals one by one.”

The team gets flower deliveries of more than 20,000 flowers. There is a waitlist for decoration week because of the popularity of the volunteer sign up.

“If students aren’t able to help decorate, they can still look for possibly joining the team and help deconstruct the float in the spring,” Koerner said.

The Tournament of Roses Parade will be held Jan. 1, 2019 in Pasadena.

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