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CAGROWN acknowledges 75 years of Cal Poly Universities’ student-built floats in Rose Parade!

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, center-front, holding a Cal Poly celebratory banner along with Cal Poly Pomona president Soraya Coley (left of secretary) and Joe Shea, deputy cabinet secretary for Governor Gavin Newsom. At the far right is Mike Mellano of Mellano & Company, a family of flower growers, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo president Jeffrey Armstrong (mobile device users may have to open photo). They are joined by students who designed and built the Cal Poly Universities float.

By CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

This was an especially notable year for the Cal Poly Universities at the Rose Parade — the 75th anniversary of their first float entry!

It is always a treat to be a part of the festivities in Pasadena leading up to the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.  In the past, this was a tradition started by CA GROWN and the CA Cut Flower Commission to include California Grown certification of floats displaying at least 85 percent of flowers, greens and other organic ag materials grown in the Golden State. While challenges brought by COVID and supply chain interruptions caused a pause in that process, two floats sponsored this year by the Tournament of Roses, representing the schools participating in the Rose Bowl football game, were certified CAGROWN.

All the floats are beautiful!  What makes Cal Poly’s annual entry distinctive is that it’s the only one student-designed and built on two different campuses, and it’s the perfect example of Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” approach, which is core to the curriculum inside and outside of the classroom. This year’s float, “Shock and Roll: Powering the Musical Current,” featured floral products plus a creative use of agricultural products such as citrus, pomegranates, rice, onion seed, carrots, lentils, mushrooms, cabbage, corn and eggplant.

The float won the Crown City Innovator Award for the most outstanding use of imagination, innovation and technology, including the use of pneumatic, hydraulic and electrical systems to power the float’s elements.

Congratulations to Cal Poly on such a richly deserved achievement! And a big thank you to California Grown and the Tournament of Roses leadership for developing and maintaining such a meaningful connection to the Rose Parade.

Cal Poly’s award-winning float

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