They Did It Again!
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They Did It Again!

Christianne Salvador

Cal Poly Universities bring home trophy from 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade

They Did It Again!

Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo started off the new year with another win at the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. “Sweet Shenanigans,” the only student-built float in the parade, took home the 2016 Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy for the most beautiful noncommercial entry. This is the second consecutive year the university duo has won the Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy.

The 55-foot candy land on wheels depicted larger-than-life gummy bears frolicking among ice cream cones, chocolate and lollipops. Animated bears of marigold and mums were a treat to watch as they threw snowballs made of gerbera daisies and ice skated on a botanical pond. Most of the thousands of florals used in decorating “Sweet Shenanigans” were grown by local farmers in California, also earning the Cal Polys a “California Grown” recognition.

A tradition since 1949, students from Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo team up every year to design, build and manage the entire Rose Float Project. From the drawing board to “deco week,” student volunteers work together to express their creative talents and apply classroom knowledge – fully embodying Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy.

“The Rose Float Project is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that gives students the opportunity to collaborate and sharpen their professional skills,” said Janetta McDowell, interim director of the Rose Float Project. “Students majoring in architecture can contribute to the float’s design while engineering students can work on animation, and business students oversee the fundraising aspect of the project. It really is a fun and memorable hands-on experience and there is room for students of all majors to participate.”

The Rose Float Project takes almost a full year to complete. After winning the trophy, the Cal Poly Universities will soon begin deconstructing the float to provide a clean slate for 2017’s design. Concept theme will be submitted in February; planning and design meetings will begin in the spring; and during summer, construction begins. By the time the float is driven down Colorado Boulevard on January 1st, the process will have taken about 2,000 people to complete and countless friendships developed.

The Tournament of Roses Parade is America’s New Year celebration since 1890. Held every year on New Year’s Day, flower-covered floats, marching bands, and equestrian units exhibit along a 5 ½ mile route in Pasadena, California. The parade attracts an average of more than 80 million television viewers across 100 international territories and countries. 2016 marks the 127th year the parade has been held.

For more information on Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Rose Float Project, visit


Cal Poly Universities Float Facts:

  • The campus duo have won 54 awards in the 68 years they have participated in the parade.
  • They are the oldest collegiate entry and sixth-oldest continuing contributor.
  • Their first entry in 1949 only had a $258 budget and 90 days to complete.
  • They introduced the use of hydraulic animation on floats in 1968 and computer-controlled animation in 1978.
  • They were the first float to use fiber optics in 1982.
  • Many of the graduating students who participate in the Rose Parade become float operators for other cities and corporations involved in the parade.
  • By using more than 85% California flowers, much of which are grown on each campus, the schools have received “California Grown” recognition by the California Cut Flower Commission for five years in a row.