By Emily K. Cohen
Each year the Pomona community gets the opportunity to decorate the famous Cal Poly Universities’ rose float for the Tournament of the Roses Parade.
This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the Cal Poly University tradition of the float, and the volunteer openings filled up just seventeen days after they became available.
“This year we booked up all of our volunteer opportunities in seventeen days,” Janetta McDowell, Director of the Rose Float Program for Cal Poly Pomona said.
“It is the fastest that I have even seen.”
McDowell helped put together numerous successful rose floats throughout the years and has seen a mixture of students, alumni and community members come together to get it parade route-ready.
“This year we have a really good mixture of rose float veterans and students,” McDowell said.
Members of the rose float club will attest that people love to work on the float because of the sense of comradery, tradition, history and pride felt throughout the project.
“When you’re part of an organization you make bonds with people and it becomes your home away from home,” said Orlando Cabrera, club chair of the Cal Poly Rose Float Club and fourth-year mechanical engineering student.
Whether a volunteer is from one of the universities or a member of the public who wants to take part in a southern California tradition, everyone agrees that the float creators relish in seeing their work completed and on display among professional floats for millions of viewers to see on New Year’s Day.
“Every year I watch the rose parade on TV. It’s a tradition. I always watch for the Cal Poly float,” said Teresa Martin Bozzetto, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo business student alumna who worked on the Cal Poly rose float in 1989 for the 100th anniversary of the Rose Parade.
“I liked it because it was just fun. It was a great way to meet people and blow off steam. I watched the parade on television New Year’s Day and I was super excited.”
The excitement that Bozzetto describes is the same feeling that Cal Poly rose float creators often cite as what gravitates them to work on the float, come back and then watch for the rest of their lives.
“What draws people to volunteer and work on the float is that it is something that millions of people in the world will see,” Cabrera said.
Volunteers are usually people interested in the float, past or current students, or families who participate out of tradition who sign up for “Deco Week” which is when the float is brought to Pasadena for the decorations to be added to the completed design.
“My favorite part is the final outcome. We start designing it and then go through the process, then we see it all coming together,” Cabrera said.
“It is the only thing done on campus that everyone will see.”
Past volunteers have described attributed their experience with the Cal Poly rose float as one of the reasons they continue to tune in to the Tournament of the Roses Parade every year.
“I definitely feel like the tradition [of the float] will carry on. I feel like it’s a good tradition and I hope it never ends,” Bozzetto said.
Emily Cohen / The Poly Post
Rose Float team members have been working on structural components in anticipation of the upcoming parade
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