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Cal Poly Rose Float Collection UA2002/8
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  • History

  • Title: Cal Poly Rose Float Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: UA2002/8
    Contributing Institution: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 120.0 Linear feet 56 boxes; three models; 3 float pieces on the display table; 10 flat file drawers; 20 pieces of past float control electronics
    Date (inclusive): 1948-2010
    Physical Location: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, University Library, Special Collections, Bldg 15, Room 4434
    Abstract: Since 1948, the Cal Poly Universities (Pomona and San Luis Obispo) have produced a float in the famed Tournament of Roses Parade held each year in Pasadena, California. This Collection contains files, photographs, negatives, and memorabilia (including posters, pins, buttons, patches, clothing, mugs, calendars, plaques, ribbons, 2 float models, 3 float parts) relating to the Cal Poly Rose Float Project’s operation and activities from September 1948 to April 2010. Also included are Tournament of Roses Parade programs dating back to 1912 (some years are missing). As this is a continuing project, new items will continue to be added to the collection. An index is also provided to assist in accessing the collection.


    The Cal Poly Rose Float has been jointly created at the Pomona and San Luis Obispo campuses since 1948. It is the only student built float in the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. Cal Poly students have been building rose floats for over 50 years. Student Don Miller deserves credit for getting Cal Poly into the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. His family, long-time residents of Pasadena, had a history of involvement with the parade. As a proud Cal Poly student, Don Miller had openly spoken about his belief that Cal Poly could create a Rose Parade float.
    At the end of the summer in 1948, Don Miller got a surprise call from the Pasadena Rose Parade Committee asking if Cal Poly really could produce a float entry within ninety days. Although there was no precedent, no budget, nor a committee for the project, Don said, “Sure!” Fortunately, President Julian McPhee and Dean Harold Wilson gave their approval, and with the active support of instructors Oliver "Jolly" Batcheller (Ornamental Horticulture) and Quin Conard (Agricultural Engineering) a student committee was formed with Don Miller serving as Chairman. A $258 budget was somehow acquired. As the parade deadline drew closer, desperately needing float foliage, Mr. Batcheller decided that certain campus plants were over-due for “heavy pruning”. There were also some midnight flower raids on campus and in Pasadena one week before the parade that left the campus and whole neighborhoods devoid of flowers. In addition, lumber was appropriated from the school at odd times of the day. Cal Poly’s first float "Childhood Memories" ultimately made it to the Rose Parade on time and won an Award of Merit. Since then Cal Poly’s rose floats have won over 40 awards including many Princess Trophies for best display of animation, Founder’s Trophies for most outstanding self-decorated float, Humor Trophies and Theme prizes.
    Jolly Batcheller's young son Chip rode the rocking horse on the first float, appearing New Year’s Day 1949. Also riding with him were Beth Batcheller and Dennis Delamore. Other faculty children riding on the opposite side of the float were Donna Weeks and Carol Conard. Chip waved as the cheering crowd tossed candy to him. In response, he plucked handfuls of flowers from the float and tossed them to the crowd. By the end of the parade, every flower within his reach had been thrown from the float.
    This collection began in 1993, and originally house with the Cal Poly Arabian Horse Archives in the University Union. In 2002, the Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float Alumni transferred the collection to the Cal Poly Pomona University Library. At that time there were 40 boxes of files, photographs, negatives, videos, and extensive memorabilia documenting over 50 years of rose float building by Cal Poly students. Included in the collection are Tournament of Roses Parade Official Programs and Pictorials dating back to 1912, which were donated by former float builder, Gene Taylor. The Cal Poly Rose Float Collection is now part of the University Archives, and is cared for jointly by the University Library Special Collections staff and the Rose Float Alumni Historian.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Miller, Don -- Archives
    Olliver "Jolly" Batcheller, Batcheller, Oliver -- Archives
    Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float
    California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
    Pasadena, Calif.
    Tournament of Roses, Pasadena, Calif.