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    Express your creative talents while representing Cal Poly in a long-standing University tradition.

  • 2015 Rose Float


    Students decide on an original float theme and manage the entire project.

  • 2015 Rose Float Griphon


    From design and mechanics to construction and decoration, Rose Float is an unforgettable hands-on experience!

Student Involvement

Get Involved Anytime

Students of all majors and levels of experience are encouraged to get involved! Participants are needed year-round to help build, design, and decorate the float. There are many different tasks that you can help with to create an award-winning float.

  • Leadership
  • Sculpting
  • Hydraulics
  • Marketing
  • Journalism
  • Engine work
  • Event Planning
  • Artistic Design
  • Welding
  • Business
  • Construction
  • Cooking
  • Agriculture
  • Decorations
  • Horticulture
  • Architecture
  • Networking
  • Electronics

Being part of this interdisciplinary student team is one of the most iconic Learn by Doing experiences you can have at Cal Poly. Build your technical, professional, and leadership skills while meeting new people, participating in community service projects, and being a part of the only student-built float at the Tournament of Roses Parade.


January & February

  • Parade Float moves back to Pomona
  • Deconstruction begins
  • Begin leadership recruitment for new year
  • Concept Contest held for ideas for next year's float
  • Tournament of Roses Theme Draft held
  • Annual Banquet

March & April

  • Joint Design meetings held with Pomona
  • Complete mechanical and artistic scale drawings
  • Participate in annual Cal Poly Open House
  • Begin float construction

May - September

  • Flower fields planting and harvesting
  • Annual joint retreat
  • Annual Alumni BBQ
  • Mechanical Inspection by the Tournament of Roses


  • Float construction: complete animation mechanisms, shaping
  • Flower fields harvesting
  • SLO half of the float moves down to Pomona


  • Float construction: shaping, foaming, and cocooning
  • Flower fields harvesting
  • First Technical Inspection by the Tournament of Roses


  • Final Float construction including painting, carving foam, and final shaping
  • Second Technical Inspection by the Tournament of Roses
  • Move float from Pomona to Pasadena
  • Float decoration week

Sign up for our E-Newsletter and we will contact you about involvement opportunities.

Support Cal Poly Rose Float

Your support helps programs like the Cal Poly Rose Float and fosters opportunities for students to succeed.

Deco Week

December 26 - 31

Pasadena, CA

Deco Week is the time that the final decorations are placed on the float. Decorating tasks vary, from processing flowers to delicate detail work, both on and off the float. All ages and skill levels are welcome to decorate (young children should be accompanied by an adult).

Registration begins October 1.

Four hour shifts are available each day between 8am and 10pm.

We are asking all parties, regardless of size, to sign up in advance using Eventbrite.

Featured Student

Ian Davison

My name is Ian Davison and I am the Cal Poly Rose Float Program Leader for the SLO campus. I have been involved in Float since the first weekend of my first year. I was the Construction Chair for the 2014 float, which I got to drive in the Parade. I also contributed the idea for the novel animation that won us the Crown City Innovation award that year.

Quick Facts

  • Year: 5th
  • Major: Mechanical Engineer
  • Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA
  • Hobbies: photography, woodwork,
    mountain biking, running
  • Fun fact: I’m barefoot whenever possible


This student-built float operates on a fraction of the budget of a professionally built float, as a result, the majority of the flowers and other materials we use are supplied by generous donors. Without the support Cal Poly Rose Float receives from small and large businesses, alumni, family, and friends, the project would not be possible.

There are numerous ways to help, ranging from material and financial donations to providing meals to program participants. This year, the student team is particularly in need of the following:

  1. Steel box tube - 1x1, 2x2, 2x3, 2x4, 3x3, 4x4
  2. Angle iron
  3. Plate steel
  4. Steel pencil rod
  5. SMAW welding electrodes - 6013, 7018
  1. Angle grinders
  2. Cutoff and grinding wheels
  3. Carving foam
  4. Meals for 60+ during fall quarter
  5. Meals for 100+ during Deco Week
  6. Paint
  7. Office projector
  8. Aluminum screen
  9. Plywood or OSB
  10. Spices and seeds
  11. Permanent markers

Email Rose Float if you would like to help.

Lab Directions

Directions to Lab from Campus Market:

Take Highland Dr going west (towards Highway 1) Turn right onto Mt Bishop Rd Take the first left into the parking lot Go straight through this parking lot The first warehouse is the Rose Float lab

If you drove a vehicle, please park in the paved parking lot. Parking is free here most weekends.

Directions to the Brookside Pavilion (Pasadena, CA):

The Brookside Pavilion is located on the South East corner of N Arroyo Boulevard and W Mountain Street. The check-in booth is just East of the pavilion (the opposite side from N Arroyo Blvd). Parking coordinators may have you park elsewhere due to overflow. Ask them for help if you need directions to park or to the pavilion.

From the 210 Freeway: Take exit 24 for W Mountain St Turn West onto W Mountain St Turn left onto N Arroyo Blvd Park in the parking lot on your left

From the 134 Freeway: Take exit 12 for San Rafael Ave Turn South onto San Rafael Ave Turn Left onto W Colorado Blvd Slight Right onto N Linda Vista Ave Turn Right onto Seco St Turn left onto N Arroyo Blvd Park in the parking lot on your left


The Rose Parade is a yearly parade in Pasadena, CA and is televised internationally with over 70 million viewers. This parade is unique for requiring every float to be entirely covered in organic materials like flowers. The Cal Poly Rose Float program has been building floats with Cal Poly Pomona every year since 1949 and has won over 45 awards for theme, animation, and decoration! See these awards and past floats.

Every January we hold a "Concept Contest" where anyone can submit a black and white drawing. The detail or level of artistry is irrelevant – it's all about the idea behind it! From the chosen concept, both San Luis Obispo and Pomona's campuses work together to create the final design.

No, most of the flowers come from donations from various vendors throughout the state that have been generous to Cal Poly over the years including a very close partnership with the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC). With the help of CCFC, Cal Poly strives to be a leader in float building by achieving the title of "California Grown". Cal Poly San Luis Obispo does have an on-campus flower field that has been used to provide some flower varieties, including marigolds and statice over the last 30 years.

No, students of all majors and levels of experience are encouraged to get involved. You can develop skills in animation, welding, hydraulics, automotive maintenance, machining, floral design and much more. The Cal Poly Rose Float Program is once-in-a-lifetime experience that gives participants the opportunity to develop professional skills and build lasting friendships. The Rose Float Lab is a place for people to ask questions and have a hands-on experience.

Yes! Anyone can help decorate the float during Deco Week. See the section on Deco Week for full details.

The float cycle is 15 months. This is the time from when the concept contest starts (January) until the float chassis is ready for the next float (March of the following year, after deconstruction).

The float chassis is divided into two halves, one of which resides on each campus until mid-October. The San Luis Obsipo half is trucked to Pomona's campus in October where the two are bolted together and construction continues. Before Christmas, the float is towed to the decorating tent at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

There are approximately two dozen students on each campus that serve in leadership positions for the Rose Float program. Each campus is then supported by approximately 75 additional student participants.


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