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Digital Exhibits: Caltech’s Centennial Rose Parade Float

Caltech’s Centennial Rose Parade Float

The 1991 Caltech's Centennial float

On January 1, 1991, Caltech kicked off its centennial celebrations with a magnificent and elaborate Rose Parade float entitled "For every action... a reaction."

Befitting Caltech's spirit of daring cleverness, the float featured a Rube-Goldberg device of unmatched complexity, culminating in the proverbial apple being dropped on Isaac Newton's head. The float was circled by nine giant beavers, who energized the crowd and thrilled children.

Many Caltech students helped decorate the float with flowers, while mechanical-engineering majors built and carefully tested the complex computer-controlled machinery. Nevertheless, the computer malfunctioned at show time, leaving the float operators to heroically match actions to reactions by hand.

The 1991 float wowed crowds and impressed commenters, and it is remembered fondly by the alumni, students, faculty, staff, and family members who contributed their inspiration and perspiration to build it. -EP

Visit the online exhibit. Posted 12-22-2015