Cal Poly Float Continues American Grown Tradition at 2022 Tournament of Roses® Parade

Entry featured thousands of stems donated by American Grown flower and foliage farmers

It was a year like no other. Building a float is a monumental task in any year, but 2021’s shortages in both hard goods and fresh floral supplies inspired creativity and was made possible by donations from American flower and foliage farms.

The student designed, constructed and decorated entry from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Pomona, highlighted each component of the parade’s theme – “Dream, Believe, and Achieve” through a narrative that was both relatable and fantastical. The floats theme, “Stargazers,” was inspired by well-known nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle” where cattle dream big and achieve the impossible. The float featured a beautiful meadow where the cows achieved their impossible feat by designing, testing, and using jetpacks to jump over the moon.

Cal Poly Float rendering featuring cow jumping over the moon

This year’s entry earned the Animation Award for the most outstanding use of animation at the 2022 Tournament of Roses® Parade, held New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. The jetpack operated by the flying cow used a never-before-seen technique of brightly colored flowing, floral decorative materials circulating in a clear tube giving the impression that it was really taking flight.

Cal Poly Float Close up - Arrangements of flower on a meadow surrounded by characters from the "Hey Diddle, Diddle" nursery rhyme.

Despite the shortages, the Cal Poly float received almost 12,000 stems of donated flowers, foliage and plants which accounted for almost 50% of the fresh floral used on the float. Cal Poly has always prided itself on its partnership with local farms, having been acknowledged as CA Grown Certified in years past, and this year was no different.

Arrangement of flowers in sod

“We knew going into this year’s parade the supply of floral products would be tight. People more than ever are purchasing flowers, especially American Grown, so the availability for donated items from our farms was limited. The students knew that they needed to have a plan A, B, C and even plan D and be more creative with the flowers and foliage they received,” stated Anna Kalins, Program Director for Certified American Grown.

Buckets of flowersBlooming purple gladiolus in a bucket

Josh D’acquisto, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Rose Float Coordinator commented “The Cal Poly students are very well equipped to shift and pivot and with product shortages this year they are not missing a beat. Their [the students’] reliance on flower and foliage donations has cultivated outside the box thinking. Adjusting the use of floral materials to sometimes non-conventional methods is no different than any other year and is coming in handy.”

Column of flowers to make a jet stream

An abundance of gladiolus thanks to a generous contribution from Glad-A-Way Gardens in Santa Maria, CA was a perfect example of non-conventional use of blooms. While gorgeous, colorful sprays of gladiolus adorned the meadow of the float in a classical fashion, the individual blooms were used as non-traditional decking material to fill in and cover the “pod” of the float as well. The “pod” is the base or foundation of the float that covers the chassis mechanisms of the float to which overhead structures, characters and other decorative components are attached.

The farms who generously donated to the Cal Poly Rose Parade float this year include:

Mellano & Company

Ocean Breeze Farms

Glad-a-Way Gardens

Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers

Sun Valley Floral Farms


Continental Floral Greens

Olive Hill Nursery

Other uses of the American Grown contributions on the float included cut flowers, cut foliage and potted plants as detailed and shown below. To view the full album, click HERE.

Flower arrangement amongst other float characters

Cut Flowers: Gladiolus, gerbera daisies, gypsophilia, irises, roses, protea, pincushions, lilies, goldenrod, kale, sunflowers, tulips, delphinium, safari sunset, golden leucadendron

Cut Foliage: Myrtle, sprengeri, honey bracelet, boxwood, baby eucalyptus, moss, silver leaf

Potted Plants: Dracaena, ferns, and bromeliads.

trunk full of rose bunches

A trunkful of American grown roses from Myriad Flowers in Carpinteria, CA.

potted plants in shipping packaging

Luscious plants arrive at the “flower tent” from Olive Hill Nursery in Fallbrook, CA.

Gyp springs on the float

Gyp springs on the float

More flowers added to the float

With the addition on floral, the float comes to life.

Gerbera daisies in water tubes in a tray.

Gerbera daisies ready to be put on the float.

Cal Poly team posing in front of the float

The Cal Poly team posing in front of the completed float.



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