The road to the “Road to Reclamation“
The process to create the Rose Float began last spring with Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student teams working hundreds of hours to make the giant float come to life. On lab day, nearly 100 students are in the Rose Float Lab at Cal Poly Pomona.
- 44,000 pounds
- 52 feet long, 18 feet wide and 25 feet tall
Inside the float on parade day
During the parade, four people will be inside the float to drive it and manuever the animation. San Luis Obispo team construction chair Benny Cruz, a mechanical engineering senior, will be steering the float with a joystick.
- More than 20,000 linear feet of welded pencil steel provide the foundation for the base shape, the log, snails and other design elements, said Pomona team design chair Michael Sturman, a construction engineering and management student.
- To help recreate the lushness of the forest floor, the team will use 112 pots of bromeliads, monsteras and other tropical plants donated by Fallbrook-based Olive Hill Greenhouses, in addition to real moss, ferns and mums to mimic the texture of moss and lichen, said Pomona team deco chair Elaina Reyes, a, materials engineering senior.
- The 2023 float has a flower-to-produce ratio of roughly 70:30, said San Luis Obispo team decorations chair Quinn Akeman. Among the edible décor are cabbages, broccoli, onion seeds, red onions, coffee, grapefruit, oranges, kumquats, daikon radish, cranberry seeds, quinoa, lentils, dill, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, flax seed, seaweed, almonds and oats. A floral technique Akeman learned in a plant science class will be applied to 500 pounds of purple cabbages that will resemble flowers with open, reaching petals. Each cabbage will cover a square foot, the equivalent coverage of 12 roses.
- Ornamental kale will be featured alongside blue cornflowers and pink- and bronze-hued strawflowers harvested from Spadra Farm at Cal Poly Pomona.
- The Florigene Moonshade carnation, a vibrant royal purple, will be used on the highest snail, which is perched on the giant mushroom.
- How do you make a gigantic brown log look visually interesting? Sometimes, you just have to look where you step, explained Pomona team vice president Katherine Garcia, a history senior. Foraged materials from both campuses will have a featured role on the float, providing detail for the enormous log returning its nutrients to the forest floor: pinecones, crumbled sycamore leaves and magnolia leaves.
Polytechnic touches, with a dash of Disney
For the float’s animation, the team is using Arduino software, for the first time, to animate the fluttering ladybug wings, the snails’ moving eye stalks, the baby snails chasing each other, and even the critical 25-foot overheight mechanism which needs to be fully lowered to fit under the 210 freeway overpass at Sierra Madre.
The students are particularly proud of the new driver’s door mechanism, which was inspired by Disney floats, said Pomona team president Ryan Ward (’22, mechanical engineering). It pulls out like a kitchen drawer instead of swinging open from a hinge, decreasing the seam around the door so it can be hidden better by the décor.
Find the spoon
In a tradition whose origin story is lost to history, each year’s Rose Float team glues a spoon somewhere on the float, Sturman said. Last year, the spoon was glued to the hand of the giant spoon on the award-winning Stargazers float that brought to life the “Hey diddle, diddle” Mother Goose rhyme. This year’s spoon isn’t so touch-in-cheek – it’s glued to the front of the float.