Years before animation was ubiquitous on Rose Parade floats, Cal Poly Universities were doing it annually. Every year, parade-goers eagerly anticipate the Cal Poly float and the delight created by the moving features and humorous concepts.
Katie Ruhm, Design Chair for the float, spoke with us just prior to the judging on Dec. 31. This was the fourth year of float work for the Cal Poly Pomona student, and for 2014, she will move into the position of project leader.
“We’re hoping for the Founders’ Trophy [for most beautiful self-built float],” she said. “But we love Bob Hope.” It does seem appropriate that a float with potential pilots should receive a trophy that bears the same name as a local airport.
When penguins fly
Working on the hypothesis that penguins would like to be able to fly like other birds, the float depicted a playful flight school for penguins. As the photos show, a group of little shavers get a blackboard lecture by Macaroni penguin with forsythia crest feathers on the south side of the float, while several penguins on the north side experiment with ropes and pulleys.
At the top of a huge slope covered in snow-white roses, one penguin seems to have it figured out. Strapped to a flying wing at the top of a ski jump ramp and guided by two fellows with flashlights and flags, the bird looks ready to take off.
The 2012 Cal Poly float had a mishap with its animation—the Tournament of Roses felt it was not safe to allow it to run, so one of the moving objects didn’t—and some of the workers felt that cost Cal Poly a trophy. Ruhm was philosophical about it. “Last year was a growing year,” she said.
Asked about the possibility of the Animation Trophy, Ruhm said that all the movements are very small. “It’s not a huge engineering feat,” she said, “but it’s fun.”
The Cal Poly Universities float project is a collaboration between Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It is the only student-built float and the only float to be built in two sections in float barns 250 miles apart, which are joined for finishing work three months before the parade. Students in a variety of disciplines, from agriculture to robotics, apply their knowledge and learn skills outside their areas of expertise.
Using floral materials grown on the Cal Poly campuses, it is also only one of two in the 2013 Rose Parade to receive the California Cut Flower Commission certification for using at least 85 percent California-grown flowers and roses. The other was South Pasadena's "Sailing the Sea of Knowledge."
Design contest is open to public
The Cal Poly Rose Float Project announced the design concept contest on its website on Jan. 23. Ruhm said it is open to the public. There are usually around 100 entries—the contest for the 2013 float netted 128 entries—and a vote narrows the choices to five. Then the two committees, one from each university, sit down together “to hammer out the details,” Ruhm said.
Here’s what entrants need to know:
- The 2014 Rose Parade theme is “Dreams Come True”
- Entries drawings may be in color or black and white
- Maximum size of the drawing is 11″x17″
- Anyone can enter and there is no limit to the amount of submissions
- Deadline for entry is Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 at 5 p.m.
- Include name and contact information
- Submit to the Office of Student Life (attn: Greg Lehr) on the Pomona campus, or Rose Float Office or the Epicenter (both in the UU) on the San Luis Obispo campus
- The winner will receive the choice of either two Rose Bowl tickets or $500
Your Tournament of Roses Examiner suggests looking at past Cal Poly entries for an idea of the nature of the floats, and to avoid duplication.
For more float design contests, read "Rose Parade 101: Design a Rose Parade float for the 2014 parade"
Cal Poly floats have won 49 trophies since the first entry in 1949, “Rocking Horse” (also known as “Childhood Memories.”) The toy horse and boy rider rocked back and forth, as seen in this video. The crowds tossed candy at little Chip, son of Oliver A. “Jolly” Batcheller, founder of Cal Poly’s horticultural program, and he responded by pulling off all the flowers within reach to reciprocate.
The theme of the 124th Rose Parade and 99th Rose Bowl Game was “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” The Tournament of Roses is a celebration that lasts several weeks in the fall and winter, with the high points being the Rose Parade presented by Honda and the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO on New Year’s Day. Keep following your Tournament of Roses Examiner for the latest news and for upcoming announcements.
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