Top 10 Thanksgiving Parades
Communities pull out all the stops to celebrate the November holiday with family-oriented parades.
Besides giving thanks and stuffing ourselves silly, the November holiday offers a chance to watch some great parades. Of course, the Macy’s Day parade in New York City is the mother of all parades—I think I spent every Thanksgiving Day growing up glued in front of the television looking for the best floats, marching bands and Santa Claus. There are many other parades across the country and each has its own charm. Here’s a list of the best. Most occur on Thanksgiving; those that don’t are noted.
1. New York City
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, now in its 82nd year, has set the standard for Thanksgiving Day parades. The 2.5-mile parade through Manhattan draws about 3 million people, and another 44 million watch the parade on TV.
The Chicago parade, at 75 years old, is hot on the heels of New York in terms of its age, yet it’s got all the requisite elements, plus a few extras, including Ronald McDonald (McDonald’s is the main sponsor). This year, the Budweiser Clydesdale horses will march along.
Philadelphia claims to have the nation’s oldest parade, dating back to 1910. Beginning at noon, the parade features Sesame Street and Disney characters. You can hang out in Campbell’s Winter Wonderland Expo tent for entertainment if you get chilly.
The Thanksgiving parade in Charlotte, N.C., has been around since 1947 and draws in crowds from both North Carolina and South Carolina. Half a million people come to cheer on the Carrousel Queen and her court as well as the Carolina Clowns, who have participated in the parade for the past 50 years.
Detroit calls its parade “America’s Thanksgiving Parade,” which began in 1924. A claim to fame is its giant papier-mâché head collection(some date back to the 1940s), purchased from artists in Viareggio, Italy. The 300-plus “Big Head Corp,” formed this year, should be spectacular for the march.
“America’s Hometown Parade” in Plymouth, Mass., happens the Saturday before the big day, Nov. 22. The town claims it has one of America’s only historically accurate chronological parades, representing the 17th through the 21st centuries, starting of course with the Pilgrims. Music, historical reenactments and floats round out the day. Plymouth also hosts the Pilgrim's Progress Parade on Thanksgiving Day where people march to Burial Hill to honor the Pilgrims.
8. St. Louis
Themes: Family Travel
I used to take the kids to a Thanksgiving Day parade in Schenectady, NY, which advertised itself as the largest Thanksgiving Day parade west of the Hudson River.