Student-Designed Float Wins Rose Parade Founders' Award

Art major Matthew Whaling’s rendering came to life New Year’s Day representing South Pasadena, Calif.

Dec. 26, 2012 By Jenna Bartlo

Sophomore art major Matthew Whaling’s 2013 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Float parade rendering came to life New Year’s Day winning an award — the 124th Rose Parade Founders' Award for best float made by a volunteer crew. His winning design was inspired by this year’s parade theme, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” based on the popular Dr. Seuss book, and fueled by what he’s learned in his art classes at Biola.

The float, titled “Sailing the Sea of Knowledge,” rolled down the streets of Pasadena, fashioned by more than 11,000 roses, hydrangeas and carnations. As a student in the Biola University Torrey Honors Institute, Whaling conceptualized that people do not go places physically sometimes, but education opens doors for people to go places mentally.

“Before I was inspired, I fled from the obvious and the cliché,” said Whaling. “In creating a design, I wanted something that would not be immediately thought of. I learned in my art classes to abstract an idea before basing an idea upon it to create something unique and compelling.”

“I was inspired by all the ideas and thinking I have been exposed to and how that has opened doors for me to go places that would otherwise remain undiscovered,” said Whaling. “Once I decided on books I thought about how to visually represent them on a float. I came up with an idea of a sea of books and thus a sea of knowledge.”

As someone who grew up in South Pasadena, it was fitting for Whaling to submit a design for the city’s parade float.

Whaling submitted the design to the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce in January 2012 after his mother had encouraged him to do so. In March, he received the call that his design had been selected by both the city’s float design team and the officials at Tournament House in Pasadena to represent the city in the 2013 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Float parade.

On New Year’s Day, Whaling’s float design appeared in slot 57 in the parade.

Learn more about Biola’s art program.

Learn more about Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Specialist. Contact Jenna at 562.777.4061 or 

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