Second time's a charm for artist in annual parade float contest

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Winner Robin Ryce poses with the float based on her drawing. Photo: Paul Engstrom/The Skillman Foundation

DETROIT – A gifted, young artist witnessed her drawing come to life as The Parade Company unveiled the winning float in the 21st annual Skillman Foundation float design contest on Monday, Nov. 12.

Warrendale Charter Academy eighth-grader Robin Ryce was the grand-prize winning artist. Ryce, an honorable mention winner last year, saw her drawing, called “Color Art Studio,” transformed into a float. Her design features children hard at work in a vibrant art studio working on various creations. The talented student will accompany her float along the parade route on Thanksgiving morning to celebrate with the thousands of parade-goers during the 86th America’s Thanksgiving Parade.

GALLERY:  See more photos of the winning design on our Facebook page.

Many of this year’s entries were outstanding and, for the first time, a runner-up was also selected. Seventh-grader Naomi Cook of Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies was named runner-up for her drawing, “Calling All Artists-Art Park.” Her vibrant drawing, as well as those of the five honorable mention winners, was incorporated into the design of the parade float, on the artists’ canvasses and around the skirt.

“For 21 years it has been a privilege to honor these exceptionally talented and creative Detroit students during this annual contest,” said Carol Goss, Skillman Foundation President & CEO. “We look forward to Thanksgiving morning, when we will all gather to celebrate these students, teachers and families as a community.”

The honorable mention winners include Lacey Hamilton (sixth grade, Bates Academy); Andrea Hinojosa (sixth grade, Clippert Academy); Eduardo Rojas (fourth grade, Harms Elementary); Salena Johnson (sixth grade, Henry Ford Academy: School of Creative Studies) and Christina Cervantez (seventh grade, Clippert Academy). The artists, their families, teachers and principals attended the unveiling with representatives from The Parade Company and The Skillman Foundation.

“It’s really exciting to be chosen as the winner this year,” said float design winner Robin Ryce. “I was honorable mention last year so this was a great improvement. The float is beautiful!”

“We thank the wonderful individuals at The Skillman Foundation for their commitment and generosity in making students’ dreams come true over the past 21 years with The Skillman Foundation float contest,” said Tony Michaels, president & CEO of The Parade Company. “Every year we are proud to be able to honor and recognize these incredible students and showcase their artistic skills and creations.”

Created in 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private grant-making organization whose chief aim is to help develop good schools and good neighborhoods for children. Though grants are made throughout Detroit, most are directed at six Detroit neighborhoods – Southwest Detroit, Chadsey Condon, Brightmoor, Osborn, Northend Central and Cody Rouge – and toward innovative and successful schools throughout the city.

Founded in 1984, The Parade Company is a not-for-profit organization governed by the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation whose board of directors is comprised of key civic and corporate leaders in the greater Detroit region. The mission is to fund, create and execute the best family events in metro Detroit. The Parade Company staff, the board of directors and thousands of parade volunteers work year-round to bring a wide variety of events to the City of Detroit each year, including the Target Fireworks, Fifth Third Turkey Trot and America's Thanksgiving Parade.

Go behind the scenes and watch how this year's float was made.