National Neighborhood News

Awesome Thanksgiving Parades Around the Country

As soon as the dust settles from Halloween parties and the last of the candy has vanished, all eyes (and retail stores) turn to the upcoming holiday season. Christmas songs start their sudden rotation on the radio and some people waste no time decorating their homes, while others try to get a head start on their holiday shopping, but one thing is certain – the holiday season officially kicks off with a Thanksgiving Day parade.

Small towns and bustling cities alike all across the country get into the festive spirit by participating in Thanksgiving Day traditions with elaborate parades that line the streets with giant floats and balloons, marching bands, and performers. Some of these Thanksgiving Day parades have been celebrated traditions for decades and have garnered enough media attention to become a nationally televised event. So before you get ready to watch football or feast to your heart’s content on November 24th, check out some of these awesome Thanksgiving Day parades from around the country.

photo by Anthony Quintano / CC BY

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – New York City, NY

One of the most popular and highly televised parades in the United States is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. The 2.5-mile parade has been officially kicking off the holiday season since 1924 and includes everything from clowns, marching bands, and performance groups. The parade is also known for their distinctive floats like Santa’s sleigh and Snoopy’s dog house and for their giant balloons like the Macy’s red and yellow stars, Charlie Brown, and Ronald McDonald. As the one of the longest running and most celebrated Thanksgiving Day parade in the country, more than 3 million spectators come out annually, filling the streets of New York City before 9am to get the perfect spot. The parade route begins at 77th Street and Central Park West and ends at 34th Street at Macy’s Herald Square, which is also famous for its appearance in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street.” With new floats, oversized balloons, and performers being added to the lineup each year, people won’t want to miss this exciting Thanksgiving Day tradition in the Big Apple.

America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade – Plymouth, MA

Plymouth is a historical waterfront town in its own right, so it’s no surprise that it also boasts the country’s only historically accurate chronological Thanksgiving parade. America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving and features handmade, decorated floats representing America’s dynamic history, ranging from the Pilgrims on the Mayflower to the major events of the 21st century. It also includes drum corps, re-enactments from various periods of American history, and military marching bands. Not only will you learn more about America’s rich heritage, but you’ll also feel like you’re watching a part of history. The festivities begin with opening ceremonies at the DCR Pilgrim Memorial Park at 10:30am and the parade starts marching at 11am from Benny’s Plaza Court at Nelson Street, making its way down to Main Street before ending at Water Street.

photo by United States Navy / CC0

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Chicago, IL

Chicago’s annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a long-standing holiday tradition that first took to the streets in 1934. The parade takes over the Windy City on November 24th for a fun morning complete with parade leader Ronald McDonald, extravagant floats, marching bands, and equestrian performers. Offering oversized balloons and decorated floats, the parade also features performances that reflect the city’s rich cultural diversity with Mexican folkloric dancers, Ukrainian dance ensembles, Japanese taiko drummers, and musical comedy by the Black Ensemble Theater. Honored guests are also part of the celebratory lineup and include critically acclaimed chef and Chicagoan Graham Elliot, the Harlem Globetrotters, and Matt Walsh from HBO’s “Veep” as this year’s Grand Marshall. The one-mile parade route stretches along State Street from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street from 8am to 11am.

Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade – Philadelphia, PA

Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia is the longest-running Thanksgiving Day parade in the country and has been a holiday tradition in the city since its inception in 1920. The parade was originally created by the Gimbel Brothers Department store but, after it closed in 1986, WPVI-TV/6abc stepped in to keep the ritual alive. This Philly tradition continues to draw large crowds, who come out for the parade’s beautifully decorated floats, oversized balloons, marching bands, choirs, and performers. The City of Brotherly Love welcomes spectators from all over to watch the 1.4-mile festive procession that starts at 8:30am on 20th Street and runs along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway before ending in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which offers the best vantage point.

photo by Ed Uthman / CC BY-SA

H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade – Houston, TX

Embracing the holiday spirit and continuing a long tradition is the 67-year-old H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston, Texas. Starting at 9am on Smith and Lamar Streets on Thanksgiving Day, the parade features live entertainment, lavish floats, oversized balloons, performers, marching bands, prominent Houstonians, and Santa Claus. This year’s Grand Marshalls for the event include Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles and Simone Manuel, not to mention appearances by Ronald McDonald, the Budweiser Clydesdales, and Bolivian Folkloric Dance Group.

America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Detroit, MI

Marching down Detroit’s historic Woodward Avenue is the 90th annual America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This city’s holiday tradition attracts thousands of spectators lining up along the streets Thanksgiving morning to watch a vibrant parade of marching bands, elaborate floats, and large, colorful balloons. Some of the notable acts include 2,000 clowns from the Distinguished Clown Corps and giant paper mache bobble heads from The Big Heads Corps.

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