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Rose Float

Support the Rose Float Program

The full animation test of “A New Leaf,” the 2017 Cal Poly Universities’ Rose Parade entry.

Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are celebrating their upcoming 70th anniversary of participation in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Since our first float won the Award of Merit in 1949, our entries have enjoyed success, winning 57 awards.

The Cal Poly Universities float is the only float constructed entirely by students. Students at Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo work on the float year-round on both campuses. The halves of the float are joined in November. In the month before the parade, students are often working 16-20-hours a day.

In Cal Poly Rose Float history, Pomona student Don Miller is credited with spearheading the construction of the college's first float in 1949. It was built in just 90 days with a budget of $258 -- a far cry from the costs facing the program today as it continues to pursue new technologies and produce designs to dazzle spectators and judges alike.

The program faces stiff competition from corporate-sponsored floats with hired designers and builders with budgets reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars. In contrast, Cal Poly's program depends on donations to maintain everything from building materials to equipment. That includes replacing the lab - an old, open-air warehouse building established more than 30 years ago by students.

Our vision for the Rose Float is the creation of a new Rose Float Complex that would provide approximately 14,000 square feet and include a fully enclosed float construction bay, work space, storage facilities and a beautiful courtyard. For the first time in Rose Float history, the Cal Poly Pomona lab would be protected from the weather; have better security for the equipment, electronics and tools; and include space specifically designed to enhance student learning.

"The Rose Float is one of those things you pass on to someone else ¿ to that next group of students -- and you know it's in good hands," explains alumnus Bob Pettis, who was involved with the Rose Float committee as chair and co-chair in 1962 and 1963. The float program is more than just a showcase for student creativity. It's a proud, living link with Cal Poly's heritage that will thrive thanks to your support.

A Proud Tradition

1949 Rose Float

On New Year's Day 1949, an enormous rockinghorse rolled onto Colorado Boulevard for the Tournament of Roses Parade, and an exciting Cal Poly tradition was born.

In the years since that float, titled "Childhood Memories," demonstrated the creative teamwork of the Pomona and San Luis Obispo campuses, the Cal Poly Universities Rose Float Program has established itself as an award-winning leader in an annual event eagerly watched by hundreds of thousands of people along the parade route and 500 million TV viewers around the world. Today, the program has earned more than 45 trophies as well as countless accolades for introducing innovations into its float designs, including computer-controlled animation, hydraulic systems and cleaner emissions with propane. It also enjoys the unique position of being one of a few participants that provide a float in every parade year since that rocking-horse debuted more than 60 years ago.

Whereas many float entries are built by hired contractors ¿ often referred to as "corporate floats" -- Cal Poly's is the sole entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade jointly built by the two campuses and entirely student-run at every stage of production -- from the flower fields to the drawing-board to the Pasadena streets.

Because it is a grassroots effort, the Float Program needs not only volunteer help but also an annual commitment of financial assistance to keep this signature university enterprise at its high level of achievement.