Hey diddle, diddle, did you ever wonder how the cow jumped over the moon? The Cal Poly Universities 2022 Rose Parade float tells the tale. It features a cow with a jetpack soaring over the moon and high above the float, aided by a cat who has put down his fiddle to manage mission control.
Mixing the whimsy of the classic nursery rhyme with the hard work of making dreams a reality, the Stargrazers float depicts the cow’s bovine teammates working to achieve their dreams of moo-n jump, while a dog “laughs “to see such sport,” and a dish runs away with a spoon.
The only student-built and designed float in the parade, Stargrazers brings a unique engineering twist to the theme of the 133rd Rose Parade that celebrates education’s ability to open doors, open minds and change lives, “Dream. Believe. Achieve.”
Students on the Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Rose Float team began designing their float concept in 2020. With confirmation that the parade would be held in January, they began turning those plans into reality.
Construction crews are already at work building the underlying structure of the float, including the drive, electric and hydraulic systems as well as the frame to support the 600-pound flying cow 20 feet in the air.
The design team is finalizing details and beginning work on the individual elements, shaping cows and jet packs out of pencil steel. The decorations team is scouting and testing “natural material,” both floral and non-floral, to give color, texture and pop to the float’s different elements.
The completed float will be 54 feet long, approximately 20 feet high and 16 feet wide. Tons of steel will be covered in thousands of flowers. The dog will rock with laughter while the flying cow soars above the clouds. Two other cows will be building a new fuel tank, and testing news jetpacks, while the satellite dish spins.
Currently, the float’s base is in two pieces – the front half at Cal Poly Pomona and the back half at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Close communication allows the teams separated by 200 miles to coordinate their work. In mid-October, the halves will be joined at Pomona, and the teams will begin layering on the design elements and testing animation mechanisms.
The long days and nights after finals will be more comfortable this year with the students working in Pomona’s new $5.5 million Rose Float Lab and Design Complex. The approximately 14,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor workspace, includes a fully enclosed 7,200 square-foot float construction bay.
Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, hundreds of students and volunteers usually work almost around the clock in Pasadena to decorate the float with flowers and other natural materials before the parade on Jan. 1, 2022.
Students from Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly SLO — the two California State University polytechnic institutions — have built and decorated an entry for every Rose Parade since 1949, spanning more than 70 years. During that time, the team has won 60 awards.
In 2020, more than 700,000 people watched the parade in person and 70 million viewers around the world watched on television.
The Rose Float is a labor of love, says Christopher Nares, president of the Cal Poly Pomona team and a mechanical engineering major, referring to the long hours and tremendous reward of seeing a goal achieved.
“The float building process is filled with many unexpected challenges that give college students opportunities to hone our problem-solving and leadership abilities far beyond what many classrooms offer,” Nares said. “As college students, we are taking our first steps in our various careers and industries. It is the power of education, the power to try and fail and then to try again, that will allow us to achieve whatever our personal ‘over the moon’ is.”
“Much like these cows are prototyping different jet packs for their big jump,” said Regina Chapuis, the Cal Poly SLO team president, “we have been prototyping different iterations of this float before settling on this final design. Our team has been working on and refining this design for two years now, and I think all of that hard work has really paid off.”
For more information or to volunteer to work on the float, visit www.rosefloat.org.