Cal Poly students will be in the national spotlight to kick off 2021, featured in a TV special produced by the Tournament of Roses in place of the New Year's Day parade.
The Cal Poly Rose Float program has been a Mustang tradition 73 years in a row.
Cal Poly senior Madison Toney joined the college's Rose Float program as a freshman student.
"It's been a really big part of my college experience," Toney said.
In 2020, she served as the team's president.
"It's taught me so much about myself but also how to work with others on such a large project, especially when half the team is hundreds of miles away."
Sixty students from the Cal Poly campuses in San Luis Obispo and Pomona teamed up in January 2019 to create a spectacular float.
"When March hit, we didn't really know what to expect with the parade so we just kept chugging along," Toney said.
However, as COVID-19 cases surged over the summer, the Tournament of Roses called off the iconic Pasadena parade. The move brought the Cal Poly team's plans to a halt.
"It's all ready to go, we got through making our 3D model as well so knowing potential square footage for floral materials we were thinking of using," Toney said. "Practically everything before you would start building is what we were able to complete."
Fortunately, their efforts will not go unnoticed. The team will be featured in a two-hour TV special New Year's Day morning.
"It's amazing that Tournament of Roses thought of us after the parade canceled," Toney said. "It was amazing to think that they wanted us to be a part of this very strange but hopefully fun, different experience."
Audiences will learn about the yearlong student-run process of designing, building and decorating the float.
While next year's parade plans remain uncertain, Toney and the team are optimistic their float will eventually roll down Colorado Blvd.
"There are a lot of great creative minds and I think that they will do well next year and hopefully pick up right where we left off and produce another amazing float."
The Tournament of Roses New Year's Celebration television special airs at 11 a.m. Friday on KSBY.