Rose Float team to build 70th student-designed float

By Emily K. Cohen

This year marks the 70th anniversary of rose floats that the Cal Poly Universities have created together for the Tournament of the Roses Parade.

The tradition began in 1949 during a time when there were limited resources available to the float creators, yet they still completed a successful float that began a legacy of student-created innovation for decades to come.

This year, the Rose Float Club is commemorating history by titling the float “Dreams Take Flight.”

“The message is that you can do anything you want when you dream big,” Kevin Lin, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student and design assistant, said.

The team has designed the float to have planes moving forward into the sky, just as their rose floats have moved continuously through the decades.

“It just came naturally that we want to build this theme and everyone got on board quickly,” Lin said. “Someone came up with the unique idea, and everyone else got on board.”

A traveling theme is also a part of the design with not just planes, but also passport-style stamps and stickers that represent previous years of rose floats.

This feature of the float also coincides with the 129th Rose Parade theme “Making a Difference” by remembering each past Rose Float Club member and all that they contributed to the success of the Cal Poly Universities’ rose floats.

To keep with tradition, the float will also be covered in flowers from its native state.

“We proudly use California grown flowers, and this year 90 percent of the flowers on the float will be grown here,” Rose Float President and second-year master of business administration student Jerica Hurtado said.

The aspect of flowers being the primary decoration on the float contributes to the reason the parade began in the first place.

“The parade was about pride in California and showing that we have great enough weather to still have flowers and roses in the winter time,” Hurtado said.

Supplies used on the rose floats include onion seeds, seaweed, coffee grounds and straw flour, many of which they collaborate with the College of Agriculture to cultivate.

The tradition of the California grown flowers is one of the only features of the float that remains the same each year.

“Every year, we do something different. This year, we are trying to do a whimsical float that everyone will enjoy,” Lin said.

A new challenge the team is aspiring to meet is to have a moving pod as the body of the float.

“We want to figure out how to make the clouds look like they are moving,” Jon de Leon, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student and rose float design chair, said. “We have talented engineers working on this.”

The team aspires to have the float capture an “in the sky” effect.

“We always try to do new things,” de Leon said. “We have been researching floats from around the world for inspiration.”

Even with Cal Poly Universities’ long-standing tradition of innovation still holding strong, the designers still want to honor the seven decades of rose floats.

“The entire float message this year is going back to our roots to the first rose float,” Lin said.

There is still a possibility that the design of the float could evolve, and the creators could still have a few surprises up their sleeves.

“We always add stuff at the end spontaneously,” Lin said.

The 70th annual Rose Float is titled "Dreams Take Flight"

Courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona

The 70th annual Rose Float is titled “Dreams Take Flight”

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