By JAY THOMPSON/Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Communications Officer
Marie Scholl, a 2013 graduate of Winters High School, is involved with Cal Poly universities’ 2018 Rose Float entry, “Dreams Take Flight,” which will be seen in person by several hundred thousand at the 129th Rose Parade on New Year’s Day — and 100 million more on national and international TV.
The Dixon resident and WHS graduate is part of the Leadership Team guiding development of the float and the corps of volunteers who build it.
Scholl studies Industrial engineering in Cal Poly’s College of Engineering, but she say the campus, swimming pool and theater wooed her into attending the university. She expects to graduate from Cal Poly in the fall of 2018.
For the past four years, Scholl has assisted with the Rose Parade float entry for her school.
“I’m currently on the Construction Team as lead structural welder [for the float]. Before that, I helped the Design Team weld the float’s characters,” said Scholl.
When asked about the origins of her dedication to the hobby, Scholl brought back a memory from her first year.
“My first day I was happily welding a fish out of pencil steel. Someone put on my favorite band from Canada. I screamed, ‘Who’s playing this?’ ‘You love them too!’ came a reply. We’ve been friends since, and I was hooked on Rose Float,” said Scholl.
Scholl has continued to make an impact, and now boasts an important leadership role, where she mentors less experienced float constructors.
“I love working with people. One of my favorite experiences was the first time someone pointed out that most everyone on the team learned how to weld from me. It was a wonderful feeling seeing so many amazing people who I remembered teaching and helping them gain confidence,” she said.
Scholl says she highly anticipated the moment the parade arrives.
“I’ll be dressed as Pikachu, and cheering on our float as loudly as possible,” she said.
For future students of the esteemed university, Scholl has a call to action.
“If you ever attend either Cal Poly, you’d be crazy not to try us out at least once,” said Scholl.
“Dreams Take Flight,” designed and built by teams of students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, invites onlookers to take flight on the airplane wings of a trio of cuddly critters — a koala bear, sea otter and red panda. It celebrates the 2018 parade theme, “Making A Difference,” honoring those individuals in our communities who act in selfless, generous and kind ways to benefit others.
“Dreams Take Flight” is among 44 floats in this year’s parade.
It is the culmination of a yearlong process that began last January. The concept was selected from more than 100 ideas submitted by students, local communities, alumni and friends of the Cal Poly Rose Float program.
The 18- by 54-foot entry uses animation to breathe life into its trio of amiable aviators as they swoop and sway amid the clouds. Paula the Koala, the largest element on the float, flies a striped-red biplane, controlling the craft’s flaps, rudders, ailerons and elevators, as she glances between the sky and the audience. She leads Ollie the Otter’s seaplane, which emerges from a cluster of swirling clouds, while Rusty the Red Panda soars behind, banking left to right, some 28 feet above the float.
The design includes a nod to Cal Poly’s rich history dating back to the 1949 parade. Stamps of past Cal Poly universities floats are depicted on the planes in tribute.
During Decorations, or Deco, Week, which is Dec. 26-30 in Pasadena, the float will be adorned by students and community volunteers with a bounty of more than 42,000 colorful blooms, nearly all grown in California. There’ll be roses, Gerbera daisies, irises and mums: chrysanthemums; yellow and green button mums; and orange and purple cushion mums.
The schools enjoy a storied history among parade participants.
Cal Poly universities has reached the 70-year mark, the sixth highest number of appearances with “Dreams Take Flight.” Since the inaugural effort in the fall of 1948, students from San Luis Obispo and Pomona have come together across 240 miles to produce a float, one of only six self-built entries, for Pasadena’s signature event. A symbol of the partnership between the campuses is the float’s chassis, whose front and rear halves are joined mid-October each year in Pomona to officially unite both the float and the teams.
Over the years, the Cal Poly entries have earned more than 50 awards, including the Founders’ Trophy in 2017 for the most beautiful float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization.
In addition, the scale and scope of the entries has burnished the school’s reputation among float builders for creativity and ingenuity. The program has received countless accolades for introducing innovations into its float designs including computer-controlled animation, hydraulic systems and cleaner emissions with propane.