Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Louis Obispo have been collaborating in the Rose Parade for 75 years. In the 2024 Rose Parade, Cal Poly was awarded the Crown City Innovator award for the Shock n’ Roll float which also featured under the sea creatures fused with music elements.
The Shock n’ Roll float received the Crown City Innovator Award for Cal Poly’s technological innovation in its design. According to the official Pasadena Tournament of Roses, the Crown City Innovator is awarded for the most outstanding use of imagination, innovation and technology.
CPP’s construction chair and new 2024 President Brooke Handschin explained Cal Poly used three types of animation systems throughout the float. Cal Poly used hydraulics, pneumatics and electric motors to move different elements in unison.
According to the incoming presidents for CPP Handschin and CPSLO Collin Marfia, the Cal Poly Rose Float takes pride in being adorned with the award once again.
“We’ve only won that award one other time before,” said Marfia. “It was for the 2014 Float Bedtime Buccaneers, which on that float there were hundreds of individually animated flowers that kind of created this rocking like sea motion”.
Marfia stated it is a big accomplishment for Cal Poly to be on par with 2014 Cal Poly float. Additionally, Cal Poly introduced a new animation system syncing animation and lighting to music emanating from the float.
Handschin said the Cal Poly team spent many hours of testing syncing the animation systems together and lining them up with the music. From the skeletal structure of the float to middle of deco week, the teams worked to have the animations functioning properly before the parade started. The float showcased hydraulics, pneumatics and electric motors together for the first time in several years.
Ashley Yeaman, CPP design chair, said the hydraulics, pneumatics and electric motors animate many moving elements. The elements, including the eel heads moving in and out, the clam shell opening and closing with a record spinning, the ray flapping its wings and the piano keys moving in sync with music and lights.
“Well, with 75th, you know, we gotta go big,” said Yeaman.
The float features a small viewport for the driver, Handschin, to navigate the 55-foot-long vehicle in front of the nation down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard. In front of each float were two girl scouts holding the banner displaying the award the float won.
“It was such an incredible experience and being able to say that I drove a float in the Rose Parade is something that I will forever be grateful for because it’s something that not a lot of people get to say,” said Handschin.
Because of the floats’ size, weight, the team faced a challenge when transporting the float from CPP to Pasadena. The float must be towed and cannot exceed 10 mph because the tires could overheat and explode due to the outside cooling faster than the inside. The convoy must take surface streets and wait for police to stop intersections; this year the convoy took five to six hours to reach Pasadena. Various elements and parts fell off the float such as the electric guitar at one of the intersections and had to be rewelded once they reached Pasadena, according to Marfia and Handschin.
Yeaman also explained a challenge with decorations the team faced in Pasadena. The clam shell on the top of the float had an unexpected change causing a delay. The clam shell originally needed rice powder, but students found trouble with the consistency of the powder when drying and decided to glue individual lunaria petals on the inside of the shell.
“As the first person laid eyes on it, they just kind of pointed and yelled, ‘That’s us’ and everyone’s head whips around to the corner,” Marfia said. “You see it turning the corner and then everyone, literally crowd goes wild. I’m screaming louder than I ever have in my life.”
Marfia ran onto the parade route and gave a high-five the operator hanging out of the float then returned to his seat and cried with the past SLO president as the float continued out of view.
As a symbolic start of the year, the team begins deconstructing the float design Jan. 27. The team will remove all components and create a blank canvas for preparation for the new 2025 float following the Jan. 18 announcement of the parade theme “Best Day Ever.” The Rose Float Concept Contest is now accepting design submissions until Feb. 7 at 5 p.m.