A New Rose Float Lab


Thanks to the support of our dedicated donors, Cal Poly Pomona’s Rose Float Lab and Design Complex is now open. Located near the 10 Freeway exit at Kellogg Drive, the new lab gives Rose Float students a space to build beautiful, creative and innovative floats.

The new $5.5 million Rose Float Lab and Design Complex will provide about 14,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor work space, including a fully enclosed float construction bay with 7,200 square feet, design workspace, storage facilities and a courtyard to host large numbers of volunteers.

Volunteers decorate the Cal Poly sign that will be on the Cal Poly Universities Rose Float


For more than seven decades, students from Cal Poly Pomona have designed, built and decorated fabulous Rose Parade floats for the Rose Parade, which is televised in multiple languages to millions of viewers around the world.

The journey began in 1949, when student Don Miller spearheaded the construction of the first float in 90 days. Today, this unique, learn-by-doing program is one of the finest examples of our Polytechnic Advantage, one that highlights the creativity, versatility and the skills of our students.

The new lab will be named after two Rose Float alumni — the late Don Miller (’52, horticulture), who got the Rose Float program started in 1948, and the late Ron Simons (’64, agronomy; ’69, food marketing and agribusiness management), who kept it going and ensured that it thrived.


Volunteers decorating the float

Partnering with students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, our Rose Parade Float teams create fantastic floats, beginning with a unique design concept and carried through construction and decoration with thousands of flowers. Throughout the process, hundreds of students have the opportunity to advance their team-building and problem-solving skills, learn floral design or computer-controlled animation, while others acquire skills in engineering, welding, engine maintenance, marketing, hydraulics and much, much more.


Competing against professional float designers, the university Rose Float team has won 60 awards over the years from the Tournament of Roses, including 10 Founder’s Trophies for the most beautiful float built and decorated by volunteers, and eight Princess Trophies.

Cal Poly Universities’ Rose Float program has been a leader in float innovation, being the first to use hydraulics to power innovation (1968), the first to use computer-controlled animation (1978) and the first to use fiber optics (1988). Since 2012, our floats have received the official “California Grown” designate from the https://ccfc.org/ and the California Secretary of Agriculture.