Cal Poly students are nearing the end of a collaborative yearlong process to design and build their latest entry into the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.
The theme for the 129th edition of the parade is “Making a Difference,” and the Cal Poly float — crafted by students from campuses in San Luis Obispo and Pomona — is titled “Dreams Take Flight,” featuring a koala bear, sea otter and red panda piloting prop airplanes amid a whimsical landscape.
Students and community volunteers have spent the past week in Pasadena decorating the float with more than 42,000 colorful blooms, nearly all of them grown in California. The float measures 54 feet in length, 18 feet in width and 27 feet in height.
Tyler Courvrette, an electrical engineering major at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo who serves as the group’s electronics lead, said about 200 people have helped decorate the float, including 150 volunteers from around Pasadena and beyond.
“So far, so good,” said Courvrette, who will be one of five people working inside the float on New Year’s Day. “We have the good problem of having too many volunteers.”
Cal Poly has participated in the parade 70 times since its inaugural appearance in 1949 — the sixth highest number of entries during that span. The partnership between the two campuses has led to more than 50 awards, including the Founders’ Trophy in 2017, given to “the most beautiful float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization.”
Cal Poly’s float will appear No. 38 in a lineup of 44 total floats this year. Kendall Searing, float construction chair and Cal Poly SLO mechanical engineering student, will pilot the finished product in the parade. Sara Novell, construction assistant who is also a Cal Poly SLO mechanical engineering student, will operate the drive engine that powers the float’s animation. Both will be hidden from view.
The Rose Parade will be broadcast live beginning at 8 a.m. Monday.