By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – America’s Thanksgiving Parade will feature 25 floats this year that capture the spirit of season, and the personality of Detroit, but one will be designed by a student.

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A drawing by eighth grade student Naomi West of Earhart Elementary-Middle School was selected as the winners of the 23rd Annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest and unveiled Wednesday at The Parade Company.

“Children’s Pet Cuddle & Care Club” was the inspiration for a new 30-foot-long float which features a giant bobble head dog sitting five feet in diameter with a dog bowl large enough to hold up to 20 gallons of water; children playing with a variety of animals and West’s cat Oreo who sits on top of an oversized dog house.

“It is like shocking yet amazing at the same time. I keep thinking it is not real, but it is right here in front of me,” said West, as she looked at the float for the first time. “I appreciate that they actually picked my artwork to make into a real live float for everyone to see.”

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West said her inspiration for the drawing was her love of animals and concern about stray animals in Detroit, “who need a home too.”

Six honorable mentions were selected, and include:

  • Daniela Castro, seventh grade student, Clippert Academy, for her work “Dream Neighborhood,”
  • Charles Hickman Jr., seventh grade student, Bates Academy, for his work “Soul Food City,”
  • Salena Johnson, eighth grade student, Henry Ford Academy for Creative Studies, for her work “Build Up Detroit,”
  • Laura Vance, eighth grade student, Henry Ford Academy for Creative Studies for her work “Big Top Circus,”
  • Moriah Young, fourth grade student, Southwest Detroit Lighthouse Academy, for her work “Bird World.”

The honorable mention drawings are incorporated into an 80-foot wrap along the bottom of the float.

“The drawing really showed the caring power of our community,” said Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, who was moved by the back-story of the drawing. “Naomi has been focused on animals because she lost her dog and then she also saw so many strays.”

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West, who was the runner-up winner in the 2013 Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest, will be joined by her family as she accompanies her float along the parade route during America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van.