Children's Hospital float debuts — with an injury
"All Children Deserve the Best," as it's called, is 40 feet long and was towed into the hospital's circle drive by a burly black Ford F-250. Luanne Thomas Ewald's first response was, "It's awesome" — and her second was that she wants to come back next year with something three times the size.
It will replace the 25-foot-long wood-sided wagon that has represented the hospital for years in America's Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van.
"I am rarely speechless," conceded Ewald, but she said the first black-and-white sketch of the float from the Parade Co. left her in that condition for five minutes. She pronounced the finished product "better than I imagined."
The hospital's three-year sponsorship commitment coincides with a $155 million expansion that includes the bright, kid-friendly lobby where patients, parents, staffers and friends of the hospital celebrated the float's arrival.
On one side of the room, doctors and nurses joined the kids in line for chicken waffle cones, popcorn, cupcakes and chocolate-dipped pretzel rods so good that the chef, Bobby Nahra, admitted to eating 14 of them Tuesday night. On the other side, children watched a performance by Spider-Man and Black Panther, courtesy of the "Marvel Universe Live" show at Little Caesars Arena.
The idea of the float, Ewald said, was to salute the hospital's 132-year history while pointing to the future.
The vividly colored display includes an 8-foot-tall panda, oversized dragonflies, animated butterflies, and healthy-looking children reading, running and even watering a plant. The name of the float is spelled out on building blocks.
"We wanted to capture who the hospital is, where it's going, and what it's doing," Parade Co. CEO Tony Michaels said.
Perhaps appropriately for a hospital setting, the float suffered an injury as it arrived. What sounded like a blowout was actually the highest point on the float, a white cutout of the hospital's symbolic linked-arms mascots, being flattened by a wire or some other overhang.
"We go from one hospital back to our fun hospital," Michaels said. The recuperation, he promised, will be quick: "We'll have it fixed tonight."