Detroit 5th-grader wins Turkey Day parade float contest

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Fifth-grader MyRee Scott said she sees Detroit as a city that’s “fun and bright and vibrant.”

And that’s what inspired her to come up with the winning entry for this year’s America’s Thanksgiving Parade float design contest.

Featuring giant flowers and a mustachioed artist painting on a canvas, the 80-foot float that sprang from MyRee’s imagination was unveiled Tuesday during a news conference at the Parade Company’s warehouse in Detroit.

MyRee, 10, calls her creation “Make Detroit Colorful.”

“It looks exactly the way I pictured it in my head,” the 10-year-old, who attends the Duke Ellington Conservatory of Music & Arts at Beckham Academy, said.

MyRee’s masterpiece will be among the more than 60 floats, balloons and marching bands in Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which will be Nov. 24. She and her family will escort the float, which is sponsored by the Parade Company and the Skillman Foundation, in the parade.

“Where Detroit is going is bright,” said Tony Michaels, the Parade Company’s president and CEO. “And I think all of the bright colors (MyRee) put in her drawing made everyone feel good. It really sent that message that things are bright. That’s what hit everybody.”

The annual contest, in its 25th year, is open to Detroit Public School students in grades four through eight. Parade Company officials choose the winning design.

“Every year, the design is so unique to each child,” said Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “You never get tired of seeing a child who cannot stop smiling.”

Based in Detroit, the foundation is a private philanthropic group that works to improve high school graduation rates in Metro Detroit.

“We’ve supported the contest for 25 years because we want to make sure young people’s voices are lifted up and a part of the city’s vision and their talents are celebrated,” Allen said. “There’s no better way to do that ... than through The Parade Company.”

America’s Thanksgiving Parade Presented by Art Van was started in 1924 as the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people line Woodward to watch the procession of more than 60 travel about 2 1/2 miles from West Kirby to Congress. Along with dinner and Lions football, the parade is the third most beloved Turkey Day tradition in Detroit.

In 1990, the parade lost its primary sponsor — the now-defunct Hudson’s department store chain — and was on the brink of being canceled until furniture retailer Art Van Elslander rescued it. His company signed on to become the parade’s presenting sponsor in 2013. Last year, it renewed a three-year contract to remain the parade’s patron.

Eight new floats, including MyRee’s, will be in the parade this year. The others are sponsored by the DTE Energy Foundation, the Detroit Jazz Festival, Quicken Loans, Ford Motor Co., Shinola Detroit, Lear Corp. and Huntington Bank.