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Cal Poly float takes home trophy at 2017 Rose Parade

A float designed and built by Cal Poly universities took away the prestigious Founders Trophy at the 2017 Rose Parade in Pasadena on Monday.

The trophy is awarded to the most beautiful float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization.

Teams of students from Cal Poly and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona built the float to celebrate the 2017 parade theme, “Echoes of Success.”

The float, entitled “A New Leaf”, featured a family of chameleons decorated with thousands of flowers, most of the flowers coming from the state of California.

The schools were honored for their commitment to California’s flower farmers, as the float earned the “California Grown” designation from the California Cut Flower Commission. The Cal Poly universities’ float over 90 percent of cut flowers and plant materials from California, including orange and yellow marigolds grown on the San Luis Obispo campus.

“A New Leaf” is among 41 entries and is the only student-built float. The 18-foot by 55-foot entry is just under 30-feet tall. The largest chameleon measures at about 25-feet long and 7-feet tall.

The students built a mechanism that raises and lowers some of the flowers on the largest chameleon, making its stripes appear to change color from orange to yellow.

Awards were announced at 6 a.m., two hours before the start of the 5½-mile parade down Colorado Boulevard.

Since 1949, students from San Luis Obispo and Pomona have come together across 240 miles to produce the float. Since then, the two schools’ entries have earned more than 50 awards, including the Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy in 2016 for the most beautiful non-commercial float.

The parade is watched in person by 700,000 people and on television by an international audience estimated at more than 100 million.

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