OK, so the flightless water fowl might not have wings, but the Cal Poly Universities’ float, “Tuxedo Air,” depicts a number of the cuddly penguins learning how to take to the air in a most unusual way: with the help of engines, artificial wings and a ski-jump ramp.
“The theme of the parade is ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go,’” says Greg Lehr, Cal Poly Pomona’s Rose Float director. “Just like these crazy penguins who believe they can really fly and go anywhere, our Cal Poly students with their Cal Poly degrees believe they can go anywhere and do anything.”
The 2013 parade marks the 65th year that the Cal Poly Universities have participated in the event. Unlike others in the parade, the Cal Poly float is designed and built by students, not professional companies. This year’s design concept was selected out of 128 submitted from students at the Pomona and San Luis Obispo campuses.
The students put thousands of student-hours into building the float – on weekends during the academic year and then full time in December after final exams. It’s the only float in the parade to be built in two sections 250 miles apart; the sections are joined as one in Pomona three months before the parade.
It also gives students the opportunity to develop skills outside their fields of study: For example, business majors can learn welding, and engineers can practice marketing and bartering. It is a great example of the hands-on, “learn-by-doing” educational approach at the Cal Poly Universities.
This is the second consecutive year that the entry has earned the designation of a “Californian Grown” float, a distinction bestowed by the California Cut Flower Commission for having at least 85 percent of the flowers and plant materials grown in state, including some that are grown at the campuses. It is one of only two floats this year to earn that honor.
The Cal Poly Universities have a rich tradition of float building: They were among the first to use computer-controlled animation and hydraulics. And they have won nearly 50 trophies and other awards in 65 years, including the Fantasy Trophy, the Bob Hope Humor Trophy, the Founders’ Trophy and Viewers’ Choice Awards.