By Emily K. Cohen
The Cal Poly Universities’ 70th entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade brought home the Past Presidents Trophy for most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials.
The award became the universities’ 58th award for a float to-date, but it is the first time in history that the Cal Poly float won this honor.
“Every year we win an award we feel so blessed,” said Margaret Kennedy, a fourth-year aerospace engineering student from Cal Poly San Louis Obispo.
“For this year to be our 70th float and to be recognized for it with the Past Presidents award means so much to everyone.”
The 2018 float, “Dreams Take Flight,” used many non-floral decorations including red lentils and shaved rice.
Both Cal Poly universities collaborated on a decorations team dedicated to perfecting techniques for implementing, perfecting and preserving the botanical decorations, which took weeks of experimentation to master the intended effects.
“It was amazing to see our hard work, efforts and hours of researching get recognized,” said Kennedy, “it really highlighted our creativity.”
The rose float team arranged the decorations in a color scheme to achieve a “whimsical” look, as well as an effect of gradients with flowers going from light to dark colors.
“In the original rendering I was worried there was too much color, but then when I saw it when it was done it looked perfect,” said Orlando Cabrera, club chair of the Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float Club and fourth-year mechanical engineering student.
“I think the judges were drawn to our use of gradients, our use of brighter to darker colors with flowers,” said Cabrera.
Some of those flowers nearly did not make it onto the float and at the last moments, the team worked together to vial several fresh roses moments before judging.
“It was really hectic. We were all trying to put the flowers on and everything finally came together,” Kennedy said.
Aside from the minutes leading up the judging feeling hectic, Cabrera described also feeling emotions of relief, excitement and suspense, wondering how the float would fare overall.
Cabrera and Kennedy both described heightened feelings of excitement and emotion from everyone in the final hours of the entire event from pre-judging to judging and the parade itself.
“There was such a buzz in the air from the spectators and the all the people around wanting to see the float run,” said Kennedy.
“The final judging of the float on New Year’s Eve is a culmination of an entire year, and it’s very emotional because you think of trial and tribulations of everything it took to get here and see what success means,” said Janetta McDowell, director of the Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float Program.
“A lot of us were crying as we took pictures with the float because some of us are graduating and won’t get to be in the rose float club anymore to help with the plans from start to finish,” said Cabrera.
“The fact that we won this award shows that our standards and traditions that we have had for the floats throughout the years have kept going. It was a really good high for us, and a really good success to have for the end of a decade of work.”
The Cal Poly Rose Float Team is accepting design and concept ideas for 2019 with review planned in February.
Submissions can be given to either of the Cal Poly University’s rose float offices.
Courtesy of Tom Zasadzinski
The Rose Float Team’s 70th dream took flight on New Year’s Day covered in more than 42,000 fresh flowers
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