Gigantic snails and colorful fungi turning the past into resources for a brighter future are showcased on the Cal Poly Universities float for the upcoming 134th Rose Parade on Jan. 2.
The only student-built and student-designed entry in the Rose Parade, “Road to Reclamation” represents rebirth and the wonder that comes with the endless possibilities of a new start, embodying the parade’s theme of “Turning the Corner.” For the students, it also represents their’ efforts to fully reclaim the hands-on learning that is the hallmark of a Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo education.
The 23-foot-tall float features an enormous purple snail scanning the parade crowd from his perch atop a 16-foot-tall red-capped mushroom. Another mega-snail will be watching baby snails playing chase, while a third six-foot snail, in shades of brown and gold, scouts the parade route. The float’s forest floor is decorated with a rainbow of oversize fungi, moss and lichen converting a fallen log into nutrients for their community, while lady bugs flap their wings in preparation for takeoff.
“We’re taking a small, often overlooked, part of nature and scaling it up to the size of a 55-foot-long Rose Parade float,” said Ryan Ward, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering and president of the Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float team.
“The nurse log serves as a vital part of a forest ecosystem,” said Annie Doody, Cal Poly SLO Rose Float president and a senior majoring in marine sciences and theatre. “It serves as the basis of a new environment as a community comes together to create something new.”
Students at both universities have been working on the float design for months and are now turning their plans into reality.
The construction crews are hard at work building the drive, electric and hydraulic systems as well as the pod’s structural base to support the design elements.
The decoration teams have finalized the color palette and are searching for the perfect material to bring vibrancy, texture and pop to each part of the float. Members of the design teams are busy welding pencil wire frames for the six-foot mollusks and other large elements and plant life.
To jointly build a float at two universities separated by 200 miles, the float’s chassis is in two pieces. Students at Cal Poly Pomona are working on the front half, while the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo teams are focused on the back. Close communication allows the teams to coordinate their work. In mid-October, the halves will be joined at Pomona, and the teams will begin layering and attaching the design elements.
The float moves to Pasadena in mid-December. 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 Rose Parade, which is watched on television by more than 70 million viewers around the world.
“Having the opportunity to be a part of such a well-known event and to build such a unique and amazing thing while working with a hugely creative and passionate family of Rose Floaters has been a dream,” said Ward. “The learning opportunity is also un-matched…I’ve been able to learn and practice the skills needed to work in a large-project environment like this every step of the way, most of which can only truly be developed by actually working in that environment.”