Top Thanksgiving Parades Around the Country

Turkey is just around the corner! You’re probably preparing a long day of feasting, or football watching, or gearing up for a holiday run. But for some, the most important part is the parade. A favorite for young and old, Thanksgiving parades have been popular in our country for nearly 100 years. This holiday tradition is near and dear to so many, it’s an opportunity to see the floats of youth, as well as new attractions for today.


If you’re traveling, or you just want to catch one on television, here are the parades around the country that you need to know about.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

This parade needs little introduction. New York City’s famous parade has been around since 1924 – it’s even been featured in the old movie, A Miracle on 34th Street, this being the location of Macy’s in Herald Square, which is also where the parade culminates. Bleachers line the streets, but it’s a good idea to get there early, since more than 3 million people come to watch the parade in person. It begins at W. 77th Street and Central Park West, and if you’re really excited about the floats, you can head up the day before; from 10am to 3pm you’re able to watch the inflation of all your favorite characters.

My Macy’s Holiday Parade

Macy’s has a hold on Thanksgiving. Seattle has its own Macy’s parade, but this one takes place the day after Thanksgiving. This is an excellent idea, so you can enjoy your turkey as early as you like without missing out on the event. The parade begins at 7th Avenue and Pine Street, and, like its east coast counterpart, features floats, bands, characters, and ends with Santa on his sleigh that takes him to the Macy’s in Seattle, and he then scoots inside for the first of Christmas wishes.

Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade

Despite what you may guess from its sponsored name, this parade is the very oldest in our country. Philadelphia’s celebration dates back to 1920, first created for the Grimbel Brothers Department Store, which closed its doors in 1986. This extravaganza comes complete with floats, choirs, and performers, though its real emphasis is on marching bands. Starting at 20th and JFK Boulevard, the parade extends to the Philadelphia Museum of art.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

One of the biggest parades in the country belongs to the city of Chicago. First established in 1934, the parade was intended to lift the spirits of residents during the difficulties of the Great Depression. This nationally televised parade is full of the typical highlights – floats, marching bands, and performances, but the big draw that Chicago brings is the Ringling Brothers contribution – elephants! The parade rounds out with a giant Ronald McDonald rambling down the street. The parade begins at State Street and Congress Parkway, and concludes at Randolph Street.

Carolina’s Carrousel Parade

Sometimes also called the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade, this event takes place in Charlotte, N.C. and is the fourth largest Thanksgiving parade in the country. Nationally syndicated, the event draws over 100,000 attendees, and has been in existence since 1947. The parade is full of floats and music, but the stand out is the generosity involved with this event – scholarships are awarded to students who have shown exceptional academics and community enrichment.

H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade

A western influence is a fun way to experience Thanksgiving. Houston’s parade is one of the nation’s largest, and usually gets 200,000 attendees each year. Like many of its cohorts, the H-E-B parade began with Santa riding his sleigh downtown from Union Station, and arriving at the department store, Foley’s, back in 1949. The parade remains downtown, and while it’s free, if you really want a great seat, you can pay for one ahead of time, too.

America’s Thanksgiving Parade

Detroit’s fabulous parade began in 1924, same as New York’s parade. Strolling down Woodward Avenue between Kirby Street and Congress Street, the parade is a full featured event, with balloons, marching bands and floats. Unique to Detroit are the Big Heads – The Big Head Corps raises money for the parade, the money of which goes to the world’s largest papier mache head collection. These crazy heads are worn on parade day, and they march down the street to great applause.


America’s Hometown Plymouth Parade

This might be the granddaddy of parades – don’t tell New York City. Plymouth celebrates its heritage as home of the first Thanksgiving over the course of several days before actual Thanksgiving day, on which there is no parade. Activities include patriotic concerts, pilgrim-guided tours, including one that begins at Plymouth Rock. On the Saturday before thanksgiving, a parade march along the waterfront includes a chronology of America, complete with period themes starting from the first Thanksgiving in 1620, to today. This parade has a military fly over, vintage cars, bands, and homemade floats to give thanks.

What are your favorite balloons? Which parade do you watch every year?

What Do You Think?

Top Thanksgiving Parades Around the Country

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