A New Rose Float Lab


Cal Poly Pomona has reached its initial fundraising goal and broken ground for the new Rose Float Lab and Design Complex, which is expected to open in early 2021. Located near the 10 Freeway exit at Kellogg Drive, the new lab will provide future 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. 




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 Ron Simons (’64, agronomy; ’69, food marketing and agribusiness management), who kept it going and ensured that it thrived.


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.