Cal Poly Pasadena parade float
The Cal Poly Universities rose float, “Aquatic Aspirations,” makes its way in Pasadena on New Year’s Day 2020. (Tom Zasadzinski photo)

Cal Poly’s float featured in Wednesday’s Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena earned the event’s Director Award for 2020.

The float, titled “Aquatic Aspirations,” was honored for having the “most outstanding artistic design and use of floral and non-floral materials.”

The entry was the second float to roll down Colorado Boulevard at the 131st Rose Parade.

“We’ve never won the Director Award before,” said Sidney Strong, an industrial engineering major and president of Cal Poly SLO Rose Float, in a statement.

“It’s both related to the design and the decorations of the float. I’m just so proud of our team for everything we’ve done this past year.”

Cal Poly’s entry, designed in coordination with Cal Poly Pomona, featured a submarine navigating above a sunken shipwreck surrounded by colorful marine wildlife.

The Director Award marks the 57th award earned at the parade by the two Cal Poly campuses. The award was announced, among others, at about 6 a.m. Wednesday, two hours before the parade’s start.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong was on hand to watch the event.

“This year’s Cal Poly Rose Float shows the power of ‘Learn by Doing’ and multidisciplinary teamwork on a grand collegiate level,” Armstrong said.

“… The Rose Parade captures the eyes of the world. It’s also the perfect venue to showcase this floral bouquet by a group of future industry leaders, innovators and problem solvers who through their efforts and enthusiasm are also inspiring the next generation of creatives, engineers and builders.”

Cal Poly’s Ocean Theme Was Chosen From 100 Ideas

The Cal Poly float design was picked from more than 100 ideas submitted last spring by “students, local communities, alumni and friends of the Cal Poly Rose Float program,” university officials stated in a press release.

The theme featured animated turtles, jellyfish, swimming fish, a “rocking ray and swaying kelp,” Cal Poly officials said in a news release.

A high-rising octopus waved its tentacles to onlookers.

The Cal Poly campuses have participated in the Pasadena parade since 1949.

This year, an estimated 700,000 people saw the parade in person. About 37 million Americans and an international audience of 28 million are believed to have tuned in on television.

Cal Poly Pasadena parade float

The ocean-themed float won an award for its artistic design.  (Tom Zasadzinski photo)

“It’s real exciting to get not only a prestigious award but one that combines multiple aspects of our program and really focuses on our success overall,” Strong said.

Walter Trygstad, a manufacturing engineering student from Davis, California, drove the 18-by-55-foot entry.

The New Year’s Day event featured 39 other floats, 23 marching bands and 16 equestrian units.

On Tuesday, the California Cut Flower Commission honored Cal Poly with its “California Grown” award, recognizing an entry with at least 85 percent cut flowers from the Golden State.

“Aquatic Aspirations” had nearly 95 percent of its cut flowers and plant materials from California — up from 91 percent last year. A small percentage of the flowers were grown on the two Cal Poly campuses.

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