Cal Poly students and supporters started decorating their float themed ‘Soaring Stories,’ on Friday, for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.
“The creativity, the animation of the Cal Poly float are something we’ve become known for,” Josh D’Acquisto, Cal Poly’s Rose Parade float adviser said. “We were the first ones to animate the float, way back in the 1960s. We were the first to use computerized animation. So many different firsts over the years can be chalked up to Cal Poly.”
Students say they got their inspiration from the 126th Tournament of Roses Parade theme, “Inspiring Stories,” with books coming to life within a fantasy world. An ornate castle sprouts from one page as a waterfall cascades back into the book. A majestic griffin bursts out of another page, its wings flapping, about to take flight.
The Cal Poly float is the only student-built entry that has been invited to the parade each year since Cal Poly and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona teamed up in 1949. The universities’ “Learn By Doing” approach to education is exemplified in all facets of the float program, as students gain hands-on experience turning concepts into creations.
Students of all majors and backgrounds tackle welding, metal shaping, machining, foam carving, woodworking, painting and flower harvesting. It’s a unique experience, as students compete against professional float builders to win prestigious awards while showcasing their work to an international television audience.
Teams of students at both Cal Polys chose “Soaring Stories” earlier this year from more than 100 ideas.
Starting Friday, more than 100 students from both universities will be assisted by an army of volunteers — 150 an hour — who will work almost around the clock in Brookside Park, near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, to decorate the entry.
The float’s dual V-8 engines will help power the griffin’s animated wings. Other animated elements include the castle’s drawbridge, a fish jumping out of a moat, the flame on a flickering candle and a quill that will move as if someone is writing.
Flags on the castle’s 30-foot spires will undulate but will be powered by a sunny alternative — another first in parade history for the Cal Poly teams.
The universities grow approximately 5 percent of the flowers needed, including students on the Pomona campus, and marigold and straw flowers in San Luis Obispo. The remaining flora are donated, D’Acquisto said.
There are only six self built floats meaning these students didn’t hire a professional company to make the float.
Delaney Bales, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student, said ” I’d like to say that the Cal Poly rose float is the epitome of ‘learn by doing’ for the Cal Poly universities.>
“We’re held to the same standards as all the other floats, it’s a lot of pressure and we really like to wow the crowd,” Bales said.
Amanda Lee, senior at Cal Poly SLO, said , “We are working with local farmers, we have 2,000 roses coming out of Nipomo, and we grow a bunch of dry flowers on our campus at Cal Poly.”