Published : Monday, December 10, 2018 | 6:26 PM
When Cal Poly Universities’ float rolls out on Colorado Blvd. on New Year’s Day for the Rose Parade in Pasadena, it will be “out of this world.”
This is how Cal Poly Rose Float, the student organization that has been building the only student-built float in the Rose Parade for decades, introduced the 2019 Cal Poly Universities entry in the iconic annual Pasadena event.
Celebrating the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade theme, “The Melody of Life,” Cal Poly’s entry, “Far Out Frequencies,” features a pair of astronauts and a handful of alien friends on another planet communicating through music. The design was the top choice, from 150 submitted entries, of the Cal Poly Rose Float team in San Luis Obispo and their counterparts in Pomona.
“Throughout the years, our campuses have united to design, construct and decorate to achieve a common goal: our float,” said Sara Novell, a mechanical engineering senior who’s president of Cal Poly SLO Rose Float. “This idea of unity is also shown in our float, in how the astronauts and aliens join together to create a common language. We want to express the ‘Melody of Life’ by showing the power that music has in its ability to join communities of different backgrounds to create one harmonious universe.”
On the float, astronauts Morgan and Sally travel deep into outer space and land on a distant alien planet. Unable to communicate through language, they use musical instruments to share their message of goodwill with the aliens they encounter, leading to out-of-this-world fun and some unexpected good times.
The float will incorporate animation in which one of the astronauts strums a guitar while tapping his foot and bobbing his head, two aliens play an accordion, and another alien attempts to lift a tuba off its head.
Student volunteers began work on “Far Out Frequencies” in July on the San Luis Obispo campus. Work will continue each Saturday through the middle of October, after which half of the chassis and other parts will be taken to Pomona, over 200 miles away, where each year, the halves of the float and the teams are officially united.
Once there, members of both teams will work together, competing against the calendar, to complete the float in time for the Pasadena classic on New Year’s Day.
Cal Poly has been invited to the Rose Parade for 71 years. The universities’ entries have earned more than 50 awards since 1949; their 70th float, “Dreams Take Flight,” was awarded the Past President’s Trophy for the most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials at the 129th Rose Parade last January.
In 2016, Cal Poly’s “Sweet Shenanigans” float won the Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy for most beautiful non-commercial entry.
For seven years, Cal Poly’s entry has also been awarded the “California Grown” distinction by the California Cut Flower Commission, which recognizes an entry decorated with at least 85 percent of cut flowers and plant materials from the Golden State. Many of the plants and flowers on the float are grown and harvested by students on the on-campus Rose Float flower fields.
“Students from all walks of life and fields of study do all of the welding, metal shaping, machining, foam carving, woodworking, painting and flower harvesting in this one-of-a-kind experience,” Novell said. “We compete with professional float builders to win prestigious awards and have our work showcased before hundreds of thousands of spectators and an international television audience in the millions.”
Until the day of the parade, the nearly 100 student team members from both campuses will work nonstop to create an entry that inspires, impresses and ultimately wows Rose Float members, Cal Poly alumni, the judges and millions more around the globe.