On Jan. 1, Cal Poly Universities’ Rose Float, “Aquatic Aspirations,” will help lead the internationally renowned Rose Parade as the second float in the lineup.
Built and designed entirely by students from Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the 55-foot long float is the 72nd consecutive entry from the two California State University campuses, and they are held to the same standards as the professional float builders.
This year’s underwater theme embodies the idea that no matter what dreams you strive to achieve, hope can be a powerful guide, said Marilyn Lora, Pomona design chair and a senior studying electronic systems engineering.
After the combined Rose Float team decided on a concept, both the Pomona and San Luis Obispo campuses began to brainstorm ideas about what elements they needed to convey their story. For inspiration, the Pomona design crew visited the Long Beach Aquarium and the aquarium section at a local PetSmart.
The Long Beach trip helped them get a better sense of the feel and flowing motion of the ocean landscape, said Lora. The kelp forest gave them ideas about how to hide the supports of the submarine, which rises 30 feet above the ground.
Volunteers during Deco Week in Pasadena helped the team make 629 “kelp leaves” to help hide the structural supports, by covering the leaves with dried parsley and the bladder with green split peas and cedar sprigs.
To achieve the sense of a floating landscape, the construction team designed the animation mechanisms with the goal of subtle, languid movement, said Chris Maciosek, Pomona construction chair and senior studying mechanical engineering.
Oscar, the giant octopus on the bow, will wave its tentacles. Turtles will tilt back and forth as they swim alongside fish. Jellyfish will rotate, and the ray will rock.
Tyus Robinson, a senior studying civil engineering, led the “deco” team for Pomona.
“When we first start to brainstorm about the elements and materials for the float, we’re thinking about textures and colors,” he said. “We experiment with a lot of materials.”
For the rough, sandy texture of the sea floor, the team used white corn kernels, popcorn kernels, walnut shells, almond shells, white corn meal and golden and brown flax seed.
For the three sea turtles – Rafael (a ninja turtle), Koopa (a character from Mario Kart) and Crush (from “Finding Nemo”) – the team used green roses, green button mums, dried French lentils and split peas, with lima beans, walnut shells and almond shells for accents. The eyes are covered in seaweed with highlights of lunaria. The belly of the middle turtle is covered in yellow millet.
The jellyfish are covered in blue statice, red bougainvillea, and layered, sliced citrus for a scalloped iridescent look. Longer tentacles are covered in dried strawflower with additional fine tentacles made of orchid arrangements.
The submarine is covered in red lentils, white cushion mums, silver leaf, blue statice, seaweed, yellow strawflower and lunaria.
The sunken ship is covered in ground coffee with mushroom barnacles, a last-minute addition during Deco Week. The gold is crushed popcorn kernels. Colorful starfish and coral, inspired by the aquarium, give the float extra pops of color.
Approximately 30,000 flowers will cover “Aquatic Aspirations,” among them thousands of roses, Gerbera and irises along with protea, halconia, honeycomb ginger and more. Bitter melon, bright kiwano melon and succulents provide additional accents.
Just after 1 p.m. on Dec. 31, the Cal Poly Universities’ Rose Float backed slowly and carefully out of Rosemont Pavilion, into the bright sun. Extra mums were added to the octopus and additional vialed flowers added to better conceal compartment doors.
The glorious product of 13 months of work will roll down Colorado Boulevard at 8 a.m. on Jan. 1.