DEARBORN – Hundreds of Ford employees assembled outside of World Headquarters Monday as Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford revealed the all-new Ford parade float ahead of its appearance in America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade presented by Art Van this Thursday.
The new float celebrates both the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford’s birth and the work that Ford employees do in the community.
“My great grandfather always believed that you couldn’t have a strong company unless you also had a strong community,” said Ford. “One of the things of which I am most proud is how much we do at Ford wherever we are in the world. Our employees are the best and the greatest and we give back, you all give back so much. I am so proud of all of you.”
The 100-foot-long float, which continues a company tradition of participating in the annual America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, celebrates the unique legacy of Ford Motor Company with three distinct features:
• Happy birthday Henry Ford – On one end of the float a giant Henry Ford sits behind a desk with a birthday cake placed in front of him celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth. Henry Ford would have turned 150 in July of 2013, and the celebration of his birth has continued throughout the year.
• Ford’s global reach – A giant globe provides the centerpiece to the float representing Ford’s global expansion and the success of the Ford Focus, which has been recognized as the best-selling nameplate in the world through the first half of 2013.
• Community involvement – The third float component is a replica of the World Headquarters building surrounded by six giant computer screens displaying the contributions that Ford Motor Company Fund and Ford Volunteer Corps members have made around the world - symbolizing that as Ford expands, so does its community outreach.
Tony Micheals, president and CEO, The Parade Company, which puts on the Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit, also was on hand to help present the float.
“We are just so elated to have this amazing partnership with Ford. Today is a fantastic day. We don’t view this as a sponsorship, we view this as a partnership and to be associated with Ford, the Ford family and all of you is a highlight of our year,” Michaels said.
Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, was equally enthusiastic about the partnership. “We’re proud to continue our support of this major community event which is marking its 87th year,” Vella said. “And, as the official parade vehicle we’re proud that more than 40 Ford cars and trucks will pull floats and carry celebrities in the parade.”
On Thanksgiving Day Elena Ford, great-great granddaughter to Henry Ford, will ride on the float in the parade. A crew of 30 Ford employees, who have volunteered their time throughout 2013 with the Ford Volunteer Corps, also will accompany the float along the three-mile parade route.
@Ford caught up with a group of float escorts in complete parade uniform sipping hot cocoa to keep warm. They explained that the uniforms, consisting of coveralls, and a shirt and tie intended to resemble what a line worker would have been worn in Henry Ford’s time, left ample room for layering to keep out the cold. The knit cap resembling a birthday cake also was helpful in fending off the cold.
“We were volunteers throughout the year and anyone who volunteered had the opportunity to have their name submitted for a chance to walk in the parade,” said Ron Tallman, a senior Purchasing manager who has been with Ford for 19 years.
Debbie Greco, the wife of a Ford employee, also joined in on the festivities. “We wanted to see the float, and we weren’t planning on attending the parade, so this event gave us the opportunity to come see it,” Greco said.
For those interested in attending the parade in person, the event starts at 8:45 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day at Woodward Avenue and Kirby Street near the Detroit Institute of Arts. The parade also will be televised locally on WDIV-TV and WJR-AM, and the first hour will be aired in 140 markets across the country.
The new Ford Motor Company float is 100-feet long and incorporates the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford’s birth, Ford’s growing global presence and the company’s dedication to community service.