In 1948, with only 100 days until the next Rose Parade, Cal Poly Pomona Don Miller committed students at Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to building a float for the 1949 parade. Students from both campuses have worked together to design and build fantastical floats for every parade since. Through the years, the Cal Poly Universities’ floats have been at the forefront of innovation, including being the first to use hydraulics for animation in 1968, the first to use computer-controlled animation in 1978, the first to use fiber optics in 1982, and animated decoration in 2014.
As of Jan. 1, 2017, the floats have won 57 awards. The program is the third oldest self-built entry in the parade.