This Thanksgiving, the newly-designed Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan parade float will make its debut as thousands of spectators gather along Woodward Avenue in Detroit. “A Confident Life,” was officially unveiled earlier this month at the Parade Company’s 18th annual Pancake Breakfast presented by BCBSM. Blue Cross employees got a sneak preview of the completed float during a special event on Nov. 8 featuring Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp and President of the Parade Company, Tony Michaels. The new 110-foot-long float will be featured in America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van Nov. 23. The float is 25-feet high at its tallest point and features larger-than-life fruits and vegetables, plus live-action animation. "Blue Cross is proud to support an iconic event that brings the community together and shines a positive spotlight on our city and state to millions of people watching on Thanksgiving Day,” said Loepp. This is Blue Cross’ 34th year as a major Parade sponsor. The float also features people engaged in healthy lifestyle activities, like skipping rope, lifting weights and visiting a physician for a checkup. The float’s design signifies Blue Cross’ commitment to a healthier Michigan, Loepp said.
From Concept to Construction
Van Ness said a lot goes into transforming the concept sketch into real life. Even before that, it can take months of planning to finalize a concept for a float between the sponsors and the Parade Company Board of Directors. “We’re usually working on two to three floats at a time, so it’s a lot of work.” said Van Ness, who holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from Wayne State University. “But I love my job. It’s a lot of fun. I love seeing the look of wonder on kids’ faces when they see the floats.” Van Ness said he and the team of artists and volunteers use the sketch as their model, but of course add their own touches along the way. “We add things to enhance it like different color and texture,” said Van Ness. Nicole Gasparovich, Bella Shayevich, Tressa Bielak and Melissa McDonald were four of the volunteers from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan who helped to bring the float to life. They are part of the general accounting team at Blue Cross’ Detroit headquarters and spent an afternoon putting on the first coats of paint. “It’s exciting to be part of building our own float,” said McDonald. “When you see it go by on TV you can say, ‘oh, I painted that!'” America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van will take place Nov. 23 and will air locally in Detroit on WDIV-TV. Feature photo: Blue Cross CEO Daniel J. Loepp and The Parade Company CEO Tony Michaels power Blue Cross’ new“A Confident Life” float on exercise bicycles stationed on the front of the float. Volunteers will ride the bicycles during America’s Thanksgiving Parade. Photo credit: Angela Loyd (feature), Mike Miller (thumbnails)