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Best Thanksgiving Day Parades

Before you enjoy that tantalizing turkey or mama’s sweet apple pie, take some time to soak up that holiday spirit at a Thanksgiving parade full of comic book heroes, marching bands, fantastic floats, and of course giant floating turkeys. Here are some of the best parades across the United States.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (New York)

History: The tradition began in 1924. Sponsored by the popular American department store by the same name, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade has grown to become the largest parade in the world. (1)

The 2017 lineup is sure to impress with crazy balloons, frantic floats, and a cast of classic performers. Balloons include Power Rangers, Angry Birds, Ronald McDonald, Hello Kitty, and Spongebob Squarepants to name a few. Floats include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sesame Street, and Snoopy’s Doghouse to name a few. Some of the top performers to grace the parade this year include 98 Degrees, Goo Goo Dolls, Andy Grammer, and the Radio City Rockettes. Marching bands from the Ohio University, NYPD, and the U.S. Air Force bring the beat. As one of the longest running parades in the United States, the 2017 Macy’s Day Parade is one of the best events New York has to offer.

[READ: NYC Travel Guide]

America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade (Plymouth, Mass.)

History: Celebrate Thanksgiving by going back to the spot of the very first Thanksgiving ever. America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade honors the first official Thanksgiving dinner, where newly arrived Pilgrims invited Wampanoag Indians to celebrate their first successful harvest in 1621. (2)

This year’s 3-day festival promises to be a thriller with live marching bands, waterfront activities, and a classic parade. Festivities start with a free Friday night concert. The parade begins Saturday morning and claims to be “America’s only historically accurate chronological parade.” (3) The parade celebrates America’s history from the 17th to the 21st century. Floats represent early American colonization and move on to the modern day. They include a Mayflower replica, the first Thanksgiving, WWI, and a tribute to America’s Patriots. If you love food the New England Food Festival (which takes place during and after the parade) is a great place to be.

America’s Thanksgiving Parade (Detroit)

History: This tradition dates all the way back to 1924 when America’s Thanksgiving Parade began on historic Woodward Avenue. Detroit is home to one of the longest running parades in the country!

The lineup this year includes amazing floats, balloons, and classic American vehicles from the Motor City. Floats range from a Detroit jazz tribute, disco dogs, a real life half pipe for skaters, and the vintage mother goose. The mother goose float has appeared in every parade since 1924. Specialty shows include live marching bands, Ford Mustangs, and the Girl Scouts. Larger than life balloons include Captain Underpants, Kermit, and the Gingerbread Man.

Charlotte Fire Department | Flickr

Carolina’s Carousel Parade

History: Originally known as Carolina’s Carousel Parade, this Thanksgiving tradition began all the way back in 1947 as a way to attract more business to uptown Charlotte vendors. (4)

In 2013 the parade struggled to find sponsors to fund the event. Novant Health took over as the main sponsor and the Parade now goes by the name of the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year the parade will host southern dance teams, marching bands, car and motorcycle clubs, community groups, and a host of different animals. Volunteers from the community help keep the Thanksgiving parade alive in Charlotte.

Jon Seidman | Flickr

Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade (Philadelphia)

History: As the oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade in America, the Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1920 and has a lot to live up to.

This year’s special guests include “American Idol” star Melinda Doolittle and Ruben Studdard. Former contestants Josh Gallagher and Billy Gilman from “The Voice” will also make an appearance. Popular floats include Clifford, Daniel Tiger, Bugs Bunny, and Madagascar. 15 different local marching bands will provide the tunes for the parade. Choirs from around the country, as well as dancers, will perform in the parade as well. (5)

Ed Uthman | Flickr

Annual H-E-B Holiday Parade (Huston)

History: The first H-E-B Holiday Parade was way back in 1950.

Participants for the 68th H-E-B Holiday Parade include Huston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, dancing groups, marching bands, and the Huston Astros Mascot. It’s not a real parade without a horse or two. Throw in the Unique giant H-E-B shopping cart big enough to fit 10 people comfortably and you have a genuine parade. Throw in the University of Huston performers, a roller derby, and Chinese acrobats and you have yourself a real party.

William Murphy | Flickr

McDonalds Thanksgiving Parade (Chicago)

History: Beginning in 1934 as the Christmas Caravan, the McDonalds Thanksgiving Parade started as a way to generate income during a severe economic depression.

This year promises to deliver bigger and better floats, horse teams, marching bands, and specialty units. The parade starts off with a giant elephant from the circus leading the way. Honored guests include the Harlem Globetrotters, Miss Illinois, and the famous native Chicago rapper Twista. Floats from the Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Park District, and the Filipino American Council are sure to entertain thousands of viewers. Marching bands from Florida, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, and Illinois will put some pep in your step. The McDonalds Thanksgiving Parade has everything from the drumline to a medieval tournament.

Hope you enjoyed this post on America’s best Thanksgiving parades. Be sure to come back weekly as I cover amazing travel destination and healthy living tips.


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