Rose float teams take on aquatic aspirations

Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have revealed the float theme for the 2020 Rose Parade, “Aquatic Aspirations,” and are currently hard at work at putting it together for the Jan. 1 event. 

The 2020 Rose Parade in Pasadena is set with the overall theme, “The Power of Hope,” which celebrates the influence of optimism and hope, according to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses’ website. 

This year the float takes inspiration from underwater life and will depict an aquatic world discovered by a submarine. The submarine finds itself surrounded by jellyfish, sea turtles and vibrant fish.

“As Cal Poly students, setting off on an exploration into our futures, we never know what treasures we might encounter as we aspire to achieve our goals,” said Marilyn Lora, a fourth-year electronic systems engineering technology student and the design chair on behalf of CPP for the float. “The spirit of discovery conveyed by our float embodies the idea that no matter what dreams you strive to achieve, hope can be a powerful guide to reaching your own treasure.” 

CPP and Cal Poly SLO are working together to create the float, with Cal Poly SLO creating the back half and CPP creating the front half. (Illustration Courtesy of Richard Burrow)

The tradition of building the float underlines the partnership between the two campuses as both CPP and Cal Poly SLO students must work closely together to design and construct the float: CPP students will build the front half of the float and Cal Poly SLO students the back half separately. 

The float, although constructed entirely by students, will compete against professional float builders who often have development budgets of around $1 million. According to the interm director of the float, Heather Hanson, the organizers “mainly rely a lot on donations from alumni and local vendors … [the budget] is a quarter of what it would cost a professional and that’s conservative on the low end.” 

Both CPP and Cal Poly SLO have consistently participated in the Pasadena Rose Parade since 1949, and as of January 2019, have won 59 awards.

According to the Rose Float website, “the Cal Poly floats have led in introducing technology to the parade, including the first use of hydraulics for animation in 1968, the first use of computer-controlled animation in 1978, the first use of fiber optics in 1982, animated deco in 2014, and the first to create a color changing floral effect in 2017.” 

The float will feature many animated elements, like in previous years, such as the front octopus waving its arms around, the submarine moving around in the back, jellyfish tentacles spinning around and the bubbles will be floating all around. 

The materials used for the float will contain a lot of dry materials such as various seeds, beans, actual leaves for the kelp that’s under the submarine, mum flowers for the octopus and fresh flowers that will be put on toward the end of completion.

The float will be joined together mid-October when Cal Poly SLO brings down the back half of the float to reside in the current Rose Float Lab and Design Complex.

The new Rose Float Lab and Design Complex is still in progress.

Construction has been delayed slightly to expand the scope of the building and is planned to start again later this fall.

There will be a newcomer’s workshop Sep. 7 where volunteers can come in and be introduced to helping on the float. 

The team will be at the lab every Saturday after Sept. 7 until the float is complete.

For more information about the float or the Rose Float Lab and Design Complex, visit www.rosefloat.org

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