Sweet Shenanigans, the 2016 Cal Poly Universities Rose Float, has won the Lathrop K. Leishman Award for Most Beautiful Non-Commercial Float in the 127th Rose Parade.
Covered in more than 46,000 flowers, the float features eight giant gummy bears made with 15,000 chrysanthemums playing among super-sized scoops of ice cream created with 10,000 roses and 15,000 Gerber daisies. Giant lollipops covered in strawflower tower above the scene.
Sweet Shenanigans is the 68th Rose Parade entry from Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, whose successful partnership has now won 56 awards and is known for their innovative technology. This year’s animation includes an ice skating gummy bear and a “snowball projectile mechanism.”
During the parade, one of the gummy bears throws snowballs over the float and into a pit. The mechanism then recirculates the balls to be thrown again. An operator inside the float can adjust the snowballs’ velocity as necessary.
Sweet Shenanigans is the only student-built float and one of only four floats in the 2016 parade to be certified as using at least 85 percent California-grown flowers. These include the roses, mums, Gerber daisies, and toasted sesame seeds and walnut shells on the ice cream cones.
The week before the Rose Parade, known as Decorations Week, is when the thousands of flowers, seeds and other natural materials are finally added to the float. Each year hundreds of volunteers show up to help.
One of those was Olivia Moore, a 2013 Cal Poly Pomona alumna and 2015 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate, working on her fifth Cal Poly float. At Pomona she was on the construction and design committees. At SLO, she was on design and served as the assistant program leader.
“I plan to come back for the foreseeable future,” she says. “Working on the floats, I get to meet so many people. During Deco Week, I enjoy the late nights, when we’re all tired, a little silly and cracking jokes.”
Peter Ross, a Cal Poly Pomona professor of philosophy, brought his daughter to Deco Week. “I like seeing the various stages of the float, and it’s an amazing feat of organization to have so many volunteers working together towards a common goal. It’s also fun to work with students who are usually working for me in class.”
“At first you just see the skeleton and the steel,” says Audrey Doan, an engineering student and this year’s design chair. “Now it’s blanketed by all of this fresh material, and the colors pop, and the elements come to life. I even love it when something goes a little wrong because then everyone comes together, and it’s so great to see everyone’s inventiveness and the cohesiveness among the team.”
For Tiffany Geery, an industrial engineering student and the committee’s vice chair, “The best part of Deco Week is watching the hundreds of volunteers and seeing the float come together. It’s pure magic.”
For a gallery of images from the parade and the float the building process, visit the Cal Poly Pomona Facebook page.