The Cal Poly Universities have done it again. For the 52nd time in 66 years, the only student-built float in the Rose Parade has earned special recognition, this time the Crown City Innovation Award, which honors the best use of imagination and innovation to advance float design. “Bedtime Buccaneers” drew loud cheers along the 5½-mile route — most notably in front of the Cal Poly Universities student section near the start of the parade — for its depiction of a young brother and sister sailing the mighty seas of their imagination in search of a bountiful treasure.
For decades, student teams from Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have joined forces to create floats that highlight their universities’ learn-by-doing philosophy. Both teams work on part of the float’s metal structure, and then in the fall the San Luis Obispo students bring their half to Pomona, where it is joined with its counterpart. Nearly every day, until the float is slowly driven and escorted to Pasadena in an annual overnight celebration, students spend hours in the lab welding, crafting, innovating and scrambling for parts.
The Cal Poly Universities have long been trend-setters in float design, being among the first to use computer-controlled animation and hydraulics, and this year was no different, which is why the judges recognized the students’ efforts. Deploying about 1,800 individual vials for flowers at the front corners of the float, the students created the illusion rippling waves. The animation covered 40 square feet and featured about 10,000 individual parts manufactured in-house. Under perfectly blue, tourist-inducing skies, the effect was dazzling.
The float also bore the distinction of being the only one in the parade certified as using all California-grown flowers.
“So many of the flowers you see in the parade are grown in Latin America and shipped here. As a university with deep roots in agriculture, we think it’s important to highlight the significance of the state’s flower growers,” says Greg Lehr, Cal Poly Pomona’s rose float director.
Lehr applauded the students’ hard work, which resulted in the innovation award.
“This float really captured the parade theme, ‘Dreams Come True.’ It also was a dream come true for the army of students who dedicated a big chunk of their lives to this project over the past year. As President Ortiz is fond of saying, we might not have a football team, but we play every year on Jan. 1 in front of a national audience — and we always consider our float team to be a winner.”
To view more images from the parade, visit the university’s official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/calpolypomona.