Across the United States, one of the things that Americans look forward to in the Fall is Thanksgiving dinner, and the festivities that bring families together. In Chicago, people also look forward to a particular event just hours before dinner – the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade.
If you’ve never seen it before, you should know that the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade is characterized by a 50-foot helium-filled turkey balloon, joined by Ronald McDonald and friends along historic State Street downtown. You may also be interested to know that the parade was originally called “Christmas Caravan” back in the 1930s. The original purpose of the parade was to uplift those suffering job loss and a general negative atmosphere during the Great Depression.
Thanks to plenty of actual Christmas events and celebrations, today’s parade is 100% focused on Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in a more general sense. This year, parade organizers are expecting 5000 participants to get involved with the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade – 1300 of which will be volunteering.
If you’re participating in the parade, make sure to DVR the telecast on WGN-TV so you can relive your TV appearance!
What to Expect at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade
This year Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Parade goes from 8-11am on November 24, 2016. The parade is held on State Street, and progresses from Congress to Randolph.
Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade Route
Just as with many other events in Chicago, the earlier you show up – the better. If the weather is especially nice, more people will make sure to come in person, and spots along the parade route will be scarce. The most devoted Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade attendees tend to show up before 6-7am.
Best places to watch
Avoid the crowds. Anywhere along State Street is a great place to watch the parade, but you can also watch the parade from a less crowded area at State and Adams. As a general rule, the further north you go in relation to the parade route, the busier you can expect the route to be.
Parade formation. Floats, assemble! If you want to see the formation and start of the parade, head to the east side of State Street between Congress and Harrison.
View the dancing balloons. If you’re most interested in seeing the parade balloon dances, go to any corner of State and Van Buren.
Who will be in marching along the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade route?
First off, you’ll hear music from multiple local high school bands. Second, there will be no shortage of horses, thanks to several unique equestrian units. Honored guests include Miss Illinois & Miss Illinois Teen, Miss Chicago/Windy City/Gold Coast, and the Harlem Globetrotters. Of course, local businesses and organizations will be adding their own unique color and life to the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Are you excited for the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade? We hope to see you there!