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The Parade Company brings eighth graders’ float design to life in Thanksgiving Day Parade


From an eighth grade class at Ludington Magnet Middle School to the Thanksgiving Day Parade route, Ayress Gross’ float vision will become a reality.

Gross is the winner of the 24th Annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest, which means The Parade Company turned her brain child into a float for this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Her “Family Tree” design features an oversized slide, which wraps around a giant tree and ends up in an enormous pile of multi-colored leaves. Fittingly, Gross will ride on the float accompanied by her family.  The household will look down from their envied seat for the whole three-mile route of the 89th annual America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van.


Ayress Gross' float vision

Ayress Gross’ float vision

The parade will travel down Woodward Ave. on mostly new pavement, installed as part of M-1 RAIL construction, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. It steps off at 8:50 a.m. Thanksgiving morning at Kirby Street and Woodward Avenue, adjacent to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and ends at Congress Street south of Campus Martius Park.

Gross’s float also features an 80-foot wrap which incorporates the 2015 Honorable Mention winning designs along with other entry favorites.

“I can’t think of a better way to display the artistic talent of Detroit students than to bring their vision to life in America’s Thanksgiving Parade,” said Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “Having a student-inspired float appear in the parade for the nation to see is a tremendous way to highlight our young talent.”

Those receiving honorable mention were:

  • Charles Hickman Jr. (8th grade student, Bates Academy) for his work “Detroit Film City School”
  • Micah Sanders (6th grade student, Henry Ford Academy School for Creative Studies) for her work “The Park”
  • Jalvan McGowan (6th grade student, Henry Ford Academy for Creative Studies) for his work “The Zoo.”
  • Summer Loren (8th grade student, Mackenzie Elementary-Middle School) for her work “Roselawn Public Library.”
  • Reanna Patton (7th grade student, Bates Academy) for her work “Year Round Ice Rink.”

“The Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest is an opportunity for students to feature their art in a walking exhibit on Thanksgiving morning,” said Tony Michaels, president and CEO, The Parade Company. “We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with the Skillman Foundation, which has given so many the joy of seeing the students’ reactions when they watch their floats come to life.”

The youth of Detroit can now not only watch the parade, but fee they are represented in it.

The free two-hour parade will be featured on WDIV-TV Local 4, including a one-hour national broadcast reaching more than 150 major cities across the country. News/Talk 760 WJR will also broadcast live from the parade route. Official grandstand seats are also available at Traffic information and updates are available on WDIV-TV, News/Talk 760 WJR and MDOT.

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