For the first time, a Cal Poly float, “Far Out Frequencies,” won the Extraordinaire Award at the 130th annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

Cal Poly’s float “Far Out Frequencies” glides down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard on Jan. 1. GRACE MIKURIYA | THE POLY POST

What started in 1890 as entrants decorating carriages with colorful flowers in bloom, the Rose Parade has evolved into parade floats consisting of state-of-the-art technology covered with flowers and other natural materials. 

More than a century later, the tradition continues. 

This year’s theme was “The Melody of Life.” The Cal Poly team, consisting of both Cal Poly Pomona and San Luis Obispo, implemented this theme into its float by combining musical instruments with figures of life from outer space.

As the float traveled down Colorado Boulevard, thousands of people in the stands and millions watching from home saw Cal Poly’s award-winning float. The Extraordinaire Award recognizes the most extraordinary entry in the parade. Over the years, the campuses have received 59 awards overall.

“When I saw it initially, it was like I almost wanted to cry, it was just so beautiful and magnificent,” Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya M. Coley said. “When the judges left, I just had a sense that we were really going to do well. We have never won this award before and so it was clearly something that was so telling around the collaboration, cooperation, the talent of our students and our great directors at San Luis Obispo and Pomona.”

The float also earned the California Grown Certification. Certified floats must be decorated with more than 85 percent of cut flowers and plants from California. The Cal Poly float included nearly 91 percent of plant materials from the Golden State. This is the eighth year the Cal Poly float has earned this certification. 

Cal Poly began participating in the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1949. This is when both campuses joined forces, combined resources, and used the universities’ “learn by doing” method to construct a float together. This is the 71st student-built and student-designed float from Cal Poly.

The float had front-man astronaut, Morgan, playing the guitar and his partner, Sally, playing the tambourine. They were accompanied by their alien friends, one who imitated Morgan by playing air guitar beside him. 

“We have such a great float. The aliens are adorable,” Elizabeth Myers, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student and Cal Poly Rose Float team member said. “And our astronauts, Captain Morgan, our front astronaut, had so much work put into him by every element, from the design to the construction and decorations teams. They all came out with such a great combination of features.”

The 48-foot tall float did run into some problems concerning the six aliens on the float. Less than three days before the parade, the team realized that there would not be enough green button mums, a vibrant green flower, to cover all aliens. The team added other colors and textures to three of the aliens to solve the problem. 

“We had a few curveballs thrown at us with our deco-material usage and we had to be very creative with it this year,” Myers said. “We had a solid year, and this pushed us as a team to come together when things got rough.”

The Cal Poly float was awarded this year’s Extraordinaire Award at the Rose Parade. GRACE MIKURIYA | THE POLY POST

The year for the members of the Rose Float Program began in February of last year and continued until days before the parade. 

The manufacturing of the float began during the summer, while workload was split between both campuses until October where they continued to work together in Pomona from then on. 

“It was definitely surreal seeing something that my team and I stared at since June, when we started manufacturing some of the key elements, come through Colorado Boulevard,” said Chris Foronda, a third-year chemistry student and the Pomona Club chair. “It was super exciting and the energy over here was ecstatic.”

When the float glided by, a crowd of people wearing CPP green could be seen cheering it on and starting the new year by supporting Cal Poly. 

 “It is clearly just outstanding. When I saw it yesterday, it was breathtaking,” Coley said. “I am so proud of the students from both universities. They spent an enormous amount of time being so creative. 

Just imagine taking this from an idea to this beautiful float and all the in-between. I could not be prouder of our students.”

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