Cal Poly Rose Float begins deconstruction of Rock N’ Shock float

By Alejandro Barlow 

Families gather New Year’s Eve on Colorado Boulevard to have the chance to see the 55-foot-long 16-foot-tall floats full of fresh flowers and produce to bring sculptures to life. Spectators view in awe of the design captivated by the intricacies of the design and the effort invested in its creation. But what happens to the floats after the parade?

Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Louis Obispo rose float program began deconstruction of the 2024 float Rock N’ Shock Saturday Jan. 27. Cal Poly Rose Float program completes the story of the floats annually by tearing down the float to its base and mechanisms so they can build a new story upon the base. The team tears up the foam and wire on the float with pickaxes, bolt cutters, knives and power tools. They will finish Feb. 3 to start the preparation for next year’s float.

Collin Marfia, vice-president for Cal Poly SLO, explained the floats, like the flowers decorating them, are meant to be appreciated for a short time and are beautiful for a temporary period of time. The Cal Poly Rose float program spent an entire year working on a float and a month after the parade the float “looks gross,” according to Marfia.

“It’s very cathartic, it’s sad to see it go but it’s nice because with this you give it a definitive start, middle and end,” Marfia said. “It feels like a complete story. I was a co-author on this story but next year I’ll be one of the main ones.”

Brooke Handschin, CPP rose float president, explained deconstruction is a time for the next lead team to organize their space for next year while the current team executives take control over deconstructing the float. Handschin explained deconstruction also gives the executive members closure to the float they contributed countless hours into creating.

Alejandro Barlow | The Poly Post

“You would think that it would be a sad experience having to tear apart the float, but it’s kind of like a rage room, but it’s a rage room where it’s the stuff that you worked on for so long and that was really fun but caused you a lot of stress along the way,” said Handschin. “So, it’s a cathartic experience for people to whack at the float with the tools and have at it with what they worked on over the year. We all look forward to deconstruction.”

After the Rose Parade, the Cal Poly Rose Float rogram offers CPP a closer look at the float. The program displays the float on campus near Parking Structure 1, allowing the public to take flowers off the float if they leave the vials holding them. This gives the program a head start on deconstruction as the flowers left on the float become compost.

The program salvages what they can and toss all other parts of the float in the dumpster. The organic material and floral foam used are put in the same green waste and composted at a green waste facility. The floral foam and other organic material create mold due to moisture and must be removed for safety, according to CPP Decorations Chair Bailey Beene. She explained deconstruction is the day where next years leadership team begins to train and take responsibilities.

“I was a little sad to start tearing it apart because we did put so much effort into this float, but it does make you proud that you were able to put all the work into research and testing and see a float that is a beautiful product go down Colorado Boulevard,” said Beene. “Its one of those things that is definitely sad to see it go and I’m really excited to see what the next team does”

The rose float team all share emotions of sadness and pride for what they have created and realization of what they must do. As the team built the float, they also bottled-up stress and other emotions and deconstruction allows them to release the cause of stress and grow closer as a team.

Alejandro Barlow | The Poly Post

Johnathan Justice was mechanism lead for the Rock N’ Shock float and in charge of the front manta ray element and responsible for the wing flap. He spent eight months building and testing the mechanism to get the wing flaps correct. He explained the team experienced many setbacks with the mechanism up until deco- week. Justice explained he stayed 11 hours after the mechanism broke to weld and fix the mechanism in time for the parade. The team was extra cautious while fixing the mechanism because the break was under decorations and inside the mechanism.

“It was definitely a scary moment possibly seeing it break and shatter after eight months of work, that was definitely a scary thing,” said Justice. “It’s such a surreal experience seeing your work on national television and seeing it in person (after what happened).”

The 2025 Rose Parade theme is “best day ever,” and the Rose Float Program awaits eagerly to begin. CPP will travel to Cal Poly SLO Feb. 10 and 11 to look through the designs submitted in their competition and choose designs to submit to the Tournament of Roses officials and begin construction. Marfia notes that the program will be designing the float but will not release to the public until September to keep the design a secret from other float builders in the parade.

Feature Image Courtesy of Alejandro Barlow

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