Detroit — The curtains dropped and Yuliana Ortiz saw her winter wonderland become a reality.

Yuliana’s “The Snowing Mountains” won the 26th annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest for America’s Thanksgiving Parade.

“It’s exciting,” the Clippert Academy seventh-grader said after the parade float designed from her drawing was unveiled Wednesday at The Parade Co. headquarters.

The float featured a snow-covered house on a hill, kids playing and ice skating, a snowman and trees. Yuliana said her love for snow and winter inspired the drawing.

Judges selected Yuliana’s drawing out of more than 200 entries from Detroit students in fourth through eighth grades.


Yuliana Ortiz, a 7th grader from Clippert Academy in Detroit, designed "The Snowing Mountains" float that will appear at the Thanksgiving Day Parade downtown. Nicquel Terry

The 2017 honorable mention designs are wrapped around the base of the float. Some of the artists for those drawings were introduced at Wednesday’s unveiling event. Design themes included “Circus of Colors,” “Thanksgiving is About Giving,” “Carousel,” “Dream Neighborhood” and “The Neighborhood Zoo.”

“This is one of the greatest opportunities and the greatest joys of my life just to see these young people come out and just to watch their faces when they are announcing that they’re winners,” said Robert Thornton, senior program officer for The Skillman Foundation.

Students began entering their drawings early this fall and the float was designed in the last month, said Tony Michaels, president and CEO of the Parade Co.

“We go through them, and we have a huge team ... and whoever gets the most votes ends up being the float that we’re going to produce,” Michaels said.

The theme of this year’s Thanksgiving parade is “Woodward!! Avenue of Dreams” to highlight the revival of Detroit and Woodward Avenue. The presenting sponsor is Art Van.

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