Stargrazers, the 2022 Cal Poly Universities’ Rose Float, features three giant cows working on jetpacks to achieve their dreams of jumping over the moon. A jetpack cow soars over a crescent moon trailing a stream of cloudy vapor.
For the Rose Parade, every element of the giant float must be covered in living material. Deco Week is the intense final push to finish the float, and more than 80 students and hundreds of volunteers glue, staple, stake and fasten thousands of flowers, petals, seeds, nuts, pieces of bark, moss and other living material to the structure — adding vibrant color and dimension.
“It was such a rush to get it done,” said Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float President Christopher Nares, a senior mechanical engineering student, on Thursday morning. “It’s incredible to actually see it come to life. Literally this morning, they did not have the floral all over the pod, and now it is completely covered.”
Three days before judging, the student team discovered they hadn’t received enough fluffy white carnations for the substantial jetpack vapor trail. Cal Poly Pomona Deco Chair Katherine Garcia, a junior majoring in history, and her San Luis Obispo counterpart, Samantha Gustafsson, a plant science student, strategized and took advantage of a large donation of baby’s breath, creating a wispy and delicate smoke stream with accents of colorful Gerbera daisies.
During Deco Week, a float can transform in hours.
Salmon-colored mums, which turned out to be too pink for the moon’s craters, were quickly replaced with kumquats donated by family members of the deco team and a quick grocery trip. Science cow’s lab jacket, an addition during Design Week, was also changed from rice powder to whole grain rice.
One significant element still under development is the prototype jetpack being tested by science cow. For weeks, the construction and deco teams from Pomona and San Luis Obispo have been trying out a variety of materials to find something big enough and light enough to circulate in the jet pack’s interior.
Inside is a complicated air system with a blower that is supposed to blow and suspend colorful material inside the clear cylinders. During the parade, vapor will be released from the jetpack’s nozzles.
So far, button mums, statice, dehydrated sweet potatoes and beets have been ruled out. Foam balls covered in colorful dry material were being tested on Thursday.
“Deco always ties everything together,” explained Ryan Ward, design chair and a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. “It’s tough to tell exactly how something will look when it’s just foam and screen. I love how the image in your head comes to life during Deco Week. It’s been living in our heads, taunting us, waiting to get built. To finally see this two-year endeavor come to life is so gratifying.”
Late additions to the float include tributes to the late Ron Simons, a Cal Poly Pomona alumnus, university administrator and longtime supporter of the Rose Float program, as well as Hall of Fame football coach and broadcaster John Madden, a San Luis Obispo alumnus.
Simons (’64, agronomy; ’69, food, marketing and agribusiness management) rode the 1962 parade entry “Man on the Moon” dressed as an astronaut. In his honor, the students created a miniature astronaut with a Rose Parade flag, which will ride the 2022 float sitting on the moon.
To honor Madden, who died Dec. 28, students created a football that will be nestled in a pile of milk cans near the front of the float.