Rose Float: A look behind the scenes

By Brian Sease

The sounds of power tools and early 2000s pop music filled the Rose Float Lab two Saturdays ago as dozens of Pomona and San Luis Obispo students worked on the Cal Poly Universities float in time for the 2018 Rose Parade.

Every Cal Poly student, both from Pomona and San Luis Obispo, knows about the float, but what is working on it like?

Elijah Koerner, a third year transfer mechanical engineer started out as a participant back in October of 2016 until he joined the team in February 2017.

Now, Koerner, decked out in a dark green rose float coverall and safety goggles works as the construction team’s lab specialist.

“I love the hands-on interaction, actually building something, I loved the social aspect -this entire club has become my family-” describes Koerner on why he decided to join.

“The work done here is like working as a mechanical engineer or just anybody who wants to build something. This is very very fulfilling in that aspect.”

In general, throughout the year, the workload is generally just the weekends, totaling around eight hours for the week.

But around the end of November, specifically after finals, things go into hyper drive as design and deco weeks begin.

During this period, the team works on the float every day.

“During the last few weeks before the parade, we are working anywhere from eight hours to 22 hours per day. I know a person or two who worked 27 hours,” said Koerner with a chuckle.

As a lab specialist, Koerner is responsible for the completion of various machine functions that will be utilized on the float.

On a typical day during deco week, he may also help other teammates with various jobs like repairing tools, training new participants on how to use tools, grinding pencil steel, cutting and welding.

Joshua Lim is a second year Electrical Systems Engineering Technology major and has been a volunteer on the rose float since the beginning of fall quarter.

“I actually talked to Elijah [Koerner]. He was at one of the club fairs at the beginning of the quarter,” said Lim.

“I started talking to him about what they did here and he said you didn’t need much experience, and since I really like to work with my hands, and there was a lot of welding involved I thought that was interesting. I came in to the group, worked a little and I got hooked.”

As a volunteer, Lim isn’t part of any specific department and is currently getting a feel for the different types of jobs available.

“Right now I’m trying to learn what the electronics department is up to because I feel it would be better fit for my major so I could learn some coding. They had me welding some pieces last time I was here and I was working on that all day,”

Generally, the day starts out with a meeting in the morning describing what everyone will be working on and what needs to be done.

Then the rose float team breaks up into the various departments and teams and works on their respective projects.

Several hours later, lunch time comes -usually about a half hour to an hour- where the rose float team takes time to socialize, talk or hold social events, like assigning a king and queen of the day.

Summer Blanco is a third year botany major and currently the decorations assistant chair for Pomona.

This is Blanco’s first year on a yearlong program starting last January and concluding this January.

The program starts with the design of the float at the beginning of year and ends with the finishing of the float and the parade.

As a botany major, specifically interested in floral culture crops, Blanco joined the rose float team for the career opportunities.

“One of the biggest parts of the rose float is the decorations that go on once it is built and taken to the deco site in Pasadena,” said Blanco.

“In the decorations department we work with dry floral material, fresh floral material, and we’re in contact with pretty much all of the California Cut Flowers Commission (CCFC) and California growers throughout the state.”

During design week, the decorations department mainly just preps, plans and organizes how everything will be set up in Rosemont Pavilion during deco week, which is the week leading up to the parade.

This planning mainly consists of figuring out which materials they’ll be using for each part of the float, ordering them and collaborating with the other departments on the logistics of both design and deco week.

“Since joining the program I’ve developed a lot more than just something that aligns with my career goals. I’ve gained like leadership skills, I’ve gained a wonderful community around me,” said Blanco.

“Initially it was for my career, but throughout the program I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten way more out of it than just a boost in my career connections and I’m really happy that I tried it.”

The Cal Poly Universities Rose Float team featured its hard work and yearlong efforts with its 70th annual float entry yesterday in the 129th Rose Parade.

The Rose Float team gathered at the lab after finals week to prepare the float for transportation to Pasadena

Brian Sease / The Poly Post

The Rose Float team gathered at the lab after finals week to prepare the float for transportation to Pasadena

The Rose Float team gathered at the lab after finals week to prepare the float for transportation to Pasadena

Brian Sease / The Poly Post

The Rose Float team gathered at the lab after finals week to prepare the float for transportation to Pasadena

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