A Rosy Stroll Down Memory Lane

Cal Poly's 1997 Rose Float titled "Catch of the Day"
Cal Poly's 1997 Rose Float titled "Catch of the Day"
By Robyn Kontra Tanner

Each January, Cal Poly has looked forward to seeing students’ creativity in full bloom with the university’s annual float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Learn by Doing has brought the float to life every year since the inaugural rocking horse design debuted in 1949. The enduring partnership between Cal Poly and Cal Poly Pomona represents the first and only student-made float in the parade.

With the 2021 parade canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cal Poly Magazine decided to stroll down memory lane, which in this case is Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard, to bask in the petal-laden creations that helped usher in each new year. We chose 10 of our favorites featuring bold designs, cuddly characters and brilliant technology that delighted spectators in person and on TV. Now it’s your turn: vote for your favorite Cal Poly Rose Floats below.

  • A rose-covered parade float depicting astronauts playing muiscal instruments
    2019’s “Far Out Frequencies”
  • A rose-covered parade float depicting gummy bears and ice cream
    2016’s “Sweet Shenanigans”
  • A rose-covered parade float depicting animals blowing out birthday candles on a cake
    2002’s “Birthday Blowout”
  • A rose-covered parade float depicting animals playing basketball
    1995’s “Bending the Rules”
  • A rose-covered parade float depticting mice and a playing-card ship
    1992’s “Squeaking By”
  • A rose-covered float depticting penguins on holiday
    1987’s “Breaking the Ice”
  • A rose-covered parade float of astronauts taking photos of aliens
    1982’s “Way Out Welcome”
  • A rose-covered parade float of a hippopotamus
    1972’s “Swamp Rhythm”
  • A rose covered float depicting Pinocchio and the whale
    1967’s “A Child’s Fantasy”
  • A rose-covered float depicting a dragon
    1966’s “It’s a Child’s World”
  • Two children in caps and gowns sit on a rose covered float depicting a hot air baloon
    1955’s “The Sky’s the Limit”
  • A flower-covered float depicting a rocking horse with a child sitting on top
    1949’s “Rocking Horse”

Which one is your favorite?

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