By Darren Loo, Jan. 24, 2023
The Cal Poly Universities’ Rose Float, “Road to Reclamation,” won the Extraordinaire Award during the 2023 Rose Parade, after hours of joint effort from both the Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Rose Float Teams.
The 2023 float team was led by Presidents Ryan Ward, a fall 2022 graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, and Annie Doody, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student. The hard work done by the design, decorations and construction teams earned the Cal Poly Universities Rose Float the Extraordinaire Award, the team’s 61st award. The Extraordinaire Award is given to the “Most Extraordinary Float” as the Tournament of Roses states. In the whole Rose Parade, 23 awards are given to the floats, some more prestigious than others.
“We were waiting in line to get into the parade seating area, and I got a text from Logan Hauptman, our construction chair, and all it says is ‘extraordinaire,’ and then I started yelling to the group around me, then everyone was checking Discord and texting each other getting the word out that we had won something remotely equivalent to second place,” said the Pomona Vice President of the Cal Poly Rose Float, Kathrine Garcia.
This year’s Rose Parade theme is “Turning the Corner,” which symbolizes the unlimited potential and fresh start that each year brings, according to Amy Wescott, the president of the 2023 Tournament of Roses.
To go with that theme of “Turning the Corner,” the Cal Poly Rose Float Team called this year’s float “Road to Reclamation.” The main element of the float includes a large fallen branch with bugs that are brought to life from that branch. It embraces the theme as something old gives the possibility to something new.
“Turning the Corner is a larger thematic statement to encourage a fresh new start of the oncoming year 2023,” said CPP Design Chair, Mike Sturman. “During the early drawing and designing stages, we were breaking down that statement saying, ‘OK, fresh new start,’ ‘a new look,’ ‘an aspect of community,’ in which we really emphasized ‘freshness’ as well as a ‘community’ of snails on a fallen branch.”
Designing a float for people to see worldwide is a huge feat but with strict rules imposed by the Tournament of Roses, fabricating the 25-foot tall, 55-foot- long float is just as large of an endeavor. The decoration team, led by Elaina Reyes in Pomona and Quinn Akemon in San Luis Obispo, takes charge of materials and experiments with different combinations of organic materials to make the rendering of the float come to life.
Everything visible on the float needs to be organic, whether fresh or dried, such as coffee grounds. Everything also needs to be exactly the color they like, because painting and staining flowers and other materials is not an option.
“Sometimes, you can ask for variants, but you would have to run that by the Tournament of Roses; for example, a couple of years ago, we used pink Himalayan salt, which is not the same as say, a natural flower or plant that grows, but if they say ‘Yeah, go for it!’ then we can use that material,” Akemon said.
Led by Logan Hauptman from Pomon and Benjamino Cruz from San Luis Obispo, the construction team works closely with the decoration team and design team to build and make everything that moves, such as the wiggling snail eye stocks, to the flapping ladybug wings.
The construction team works on most of the things that can’t be seen, such as the engine, hydraulics, drive train, structure and electricals. They also focus heavily on safety as a big part of the work they do as it involves tools like angle grinders, saws and welding machines, which can seriously injure someone if not used properly, the construction chairs explained.
Since 1949, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have continued their long-lived tradition of designing and crafting a fully student- built and award-winning Rose Float for the Rose Parade and this year is no exception.
“We’ve been known for our smaller details that add to the overall storytelling and visual beauty, and this year, we had a lot of smaller pieces, like small mushrooms and insects, that, when paired with the rest of the float, create little scenes that you can’t really see on TV, but that the judges love and take selfies with,” said Ward. “You know you’re doing well during judging when the judges are taking selfies with your float.”
The chairs explained that the Cal Poly Rose Float has a history of awards, and winning this award meant that the Cal Poly Rose Float team lived up to its legacy as being the best student-built Rose Float in the Rose Parade.
“I am proud of my team,” Ward said. “They worked hard, they’ve endured the ups and downs and they did an amazing job.”
Feature image by Darren Loo
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