First published in the Jan. 1 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
A cow jumped over the moon on a 2022 Rose Parade float, but Glendale native Annie Doody helped the cow fly.
A 2019 graduate of Glendale High School, Doody served as the electronics lead and animations operator of the California Polytechnic State University float, titled “Stargazers” — the only student-built entry slated for the New Year’s Day event. A third-year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Doody’s tasks were to oversee the moving parts of the float, including a jet pack-wearing bovine soaring over a crescent moon, and to ensure that the motions remained smooth during the parade.
Doody, who is majoring in marine sciences and minoring in theater, is a longtime participant in the annual parade, which was on hiatus in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a Q&A with her university, the 20-year-old explained that she has been volunteering for Cal Poly’s “Deco Week” — the last week of the year, which float workers spend decorating their entry — since she was 8.
She said in an interview that her Girl Scout troop leader was a Cal Poly alumna who introduced the group to Deco Week. It quickly became a tradition, with the scouts volunteering to decorate the universities’ float a couple of days per year.
After becoming a student, Doody knew she wanted to help build a float. She initially intended to get involved only in the decorating process, but found herself interested in the construction and animation aspects as well.
“I had literally no idea how to do any of it, but fortunately I had very nice teachers,” she said. “It was really cool to try something entirely new, because I’m never going to do this in a class.”
Doody and her animation team were responsible for programming the float’s moving elements to make sure they were not too jerky and remained at an appropriate speed. And while she was one of 20 students from each Cal Poly university who dedicated their time to the float, she was one of only four scheduled to ride inside the exhibit on New Year’s Day. Doody explained before the event that she would monitor the float to address any malfunctions, and to lower the soaring cow when the parade approached the overpass.
She credited the other volunteers for creating a welcoming atmosphere, and said having a more hands-on role in the construction process as a college student taught her many skills she wouldn’t have otherwise learned. She’s picked up concepts about welding, plant identification and electrical engineering.
“No matter what background, what specialty … no matter what you come into Rose Float with, there is always somebody willing to teach you what you don’t know as long as you’re willing to learn,” Doody said.
Speaking to the News-Press a few days before New Year’s, the Cal Poly student said she felt both very nervous and very excited. There’s a legacy to the Rose Parade floats, Doody said, with this one being the universities’ 73rd, and she intended to make an impression.
“You want to make people think back on this float and be like, ‘Wow, that was such a cool float,’” she said.