Thanksgiving Parades: National and regional

Americans love parades, especially on Thanksgiving. What better way to give thanks than with a community celebration that has become a holiday tradition?

There are at least four major Thanksgiving parades in the U.S.: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (New York), 6abc  Dunkin’ Donuts  Thanksgiving Day Parade (Philadelphia), America’s Thanksgiving Parade (Detroit) and McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade (Chicago).

Philadelphia is home to the oldest Thanksgiving parade in America, the 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade. Its origins go back to 1920, when Ellis Gimbel, one of the founders of Gimbels Department Stores, wanted to attract holiday shoppers to spend their hard-earned dollars at his stores. Gimbels employees dressed in costumes and participated in the parade themselves.  The parade has grown in size and stature since then and is enjoyed by kids and adults alike with the official arrival of Santa Claus. This Thanksgiving parade became the model for many other Thanksgiving parades throughout the country.

One of the most popular parades is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which is held in New York and televised nationally. The parade began in 1924 as many Macy’s employees were immigrants who wanted to celebrate their new heritage. The tradition continues to this day, with floats, bands and of course, those wonderfully amazing animal-shaped balloons. In 2011, the newest balloon character will be unveiled: Tim Burton’s reimagining of Sonic the Hedgehog.

In Detroit, America’s Thanksgiving Parade is an annual holiday tradition, which also began in 1924 and is tied with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the U.S. The parade features the usual variety of floats and bands, but is unique for its use of custom-made papier-mâché heads that were popular in early European holiday celebrations in the 1920s.

Chicago is home to the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, an annual event that began in 1934 as an attempt to lift the mood of a city in the grips of the Great Depression. The parade is broadcast on WGN 9 in Chicago and WGN America, which is available to many cable subscribers nationwide.

Many local towns also hold their own Thanksgiving parades. Check your local newspaper or community news source for a Thanksgiving parade near you. Or, ask a neighbor where the nearest Thanksgiving parade is. And while you’re at it, take time to share with them what you’re most thankful for this holiday season.