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2019 Cal Poly Universities Rose Parade float

Cal Poly Universities Rose Float teams revealed their entry in the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena will feature astronauts and aliens communicating through music on a float dubbed “Far Out Frequencies,” as shown in this rendering by Brandon Schmiedeberg.

Cal Poly Rose Float announced the 2019 Cal Poly Universities entry in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade will feature a pair of astronauts and a handful of aliens on another planet communicating through music.

The premise is that astronauts landing on a distant planet are unable to communicate with its inhabitants through language, so they use musical instruments to share a message of goodwill.

Animation will include one astronaut strumming a guitar, tapping his foot and bobbing his head; two aliens playing an accordion; and another alien attempting to lift a tuba off its head.

Dubbed “Far Out Frequencies,” the float celebrates the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade theme, “The Melody of Life,” and music as a universal language, a Cal Poly spokeswoman said.

The design was the top choice from 150 submitted entries of the Cal Poly Rose Float team and their counterparts at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona.

Construction of “Far Out Frequencies” began on the San Luis Obispo campus in July, and work will continue each Saturday through mid-October, when Cal Poly’s half of the chassis and other float parts will be taken to Pomona.

“Throughout the years, our campuses have united to design, construct and decorate to achieve a common goal: our float,” said Sara Novell, president of Cal Poly SLO Rose Float. “This idea of unity is also shown in our float, in how the astronauts and aliens join together to create a common language.

“We want to express the ‘Melody of Life’ by showing the power that music has in its ability to join communities of different backgrounds to create one harmonious universe,” Novell said.

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For 71 consecutive years, the Cal Poly Rose Float — the only student-built entry in the parade and one of only a handful of self-built floral floats — has been invited to participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.

The two campuses 240 miles apart each produce half the float’s frame. The halves are joined mid-October each year in Pomona to officially unite both the float and the teams.

The two universities’ entries have earned more than 50 awards since 1949, including their milestone 70th float, “Dreams Take Flight,” which received the Past Presidents Trophy for the most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and nonfloral materials at the 129th Rose Parade this year.

The 2018 entry marked the seventh consecutive year the Cal Poly float earned the “California Grown” designation from the California Cut Flower Commission, which recognizes an entry decorated with at least 85 percent of cut flowers and plant materials from the Golden State.

Students grow and harvest a portion of the plants — marigolds, strawflower and statice — from the on-campus Rose Float flower fields.

“Students from all walks of life and fields of study do all of the welding, metal shaping, machining, foam carving, woodworking, painting and flower harvesting in this one-of-a-kind experience,” said Novell, a mechanical engineering senior.

“We compete with professional float builders to win prestigious awards and have our work showcased before hundreds of thousands of spectators and an international television audience in the millions.”

This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, news editor for the Santa Ynez Valley News. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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County Reporter/Associate Editor

Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.