Detroit student's 'Let's Be Thankful!' parade float wins 2018 Skillman design contest

By The Parade Company

Karayna Wayne and her "Let's Be Thankful!" float design. (WDIV)

DETROIT - The Parade Company and The Skillman Foundation today announced the winner of the 27th Annual Skillman Foundation’s Float Design Contest for America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van.

Fourth grade student Karayna Wayne from Weston Prep Academy was joined by her family, teachers and school administrators as her winning illustration, “Let’s Be Thankful!” was transformed into a larger-than-life float. Images can be found here.

The float, which features sculpted children and a large 14-foot-tall globe with a smiling face on it, will be led down the parade route by Wayne and her family during America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van. The float also includes an 80-foot wrap which incorporates the 2018 Honorable Mention winning designs along with other entry favorites. 

“We were so impressed with the creativity of the entries we received from hundreds of Detroit students,” said Tonya Allen, president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “Our annual float is a way to showcase the city’s young talent. We’re thankful for The Parade Company for bringing Karayna’s vision to life for all to see on Thanksgiving morning.” 

"We are grateful for The Skillman Foundation’s continued support of the parade and this fabulous and beloved float design contest,” said Tony Michaels, president & CEO of The Parade Company. “It’s a special day at The Parade Company each year to see these young, talented students and their families celebrate their creativity and imaginations. We are thrilled to feature the winners’ design in America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van."

The Annual Skillman Foundation’s Float Design Contest provides Detroit students, from grades four through eight, an opportunity to design a float to appear in America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van. Five 2018 honorable mention winners were also selected and invited to see their designs on display. The students include: 

  • Jessica Mason – Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, 8th Grade “Dream Big”
  • Felix Reed – Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, 7th Grade “The Thankful Thanksgiving Tree”
  • Ariana Sparks – Bates Academy, 8th Grade “Neighborhood Orchard”
  • Love-Lee Ladie Jones – Pasteur Elementary, 6th Grade “I’m Thankful!”
  • Juania Harris – GEE Edmonson Academy, 6th Grade “Aqualand”

Celebrating its 92nd year, America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van takes place on Thursday, November 22. To commemorate the life and legacy of longtime parade supporter Art Van Elslander, “Art!! Heart & Soul!” has been announced as this year’s theme. Gary and David Van Elslander will be riding in the parade. A friend of the parade for over 30 years, Van Elslander is remembered and recognized as a great supporter of the Detroit community. Art Van Furniture, now under new ownership, continues the outstanding partnership with The Parade Company as presenting sponsor of America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van.

Recognized as one of the Best Holiday Parades in the USA Today 10Best Reader’s Choice travel award contest and one of the best Thanksgiving parades in the country by U.S. News & World Report Travel, America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van will be held on Thursday, November 22. The Parade will be broadcast on WDIV-Local 4 with pre-parade coverage beginning at 6 am with celebrity interviews. The Parade preshow begins at 9 am and America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van is from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., including a one-hour syndicated national broadcast from 10 -11 am reaching more 185 major cities across the country. News/Talk 760 WJR’s Paul W. Smith will host a pre-parade broadcast from 6 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. 104.3 WOMC’s Stephen Clark and JoAnne Purtan will host a live parade broadcast starting at 10 am. For more information, visit

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