It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without parades! Since the early 20th century, Americans have been waking up on Thanksgiving morning to the familiar sounds of marching bands floating from the television. And the procession of larger-than-life balloons, colorful displays, clowns, and other performers bring a certain nostalgia for many.
Thanksgiving Day Parades in the United States have a long and proud history dating back to 1920. This tradition began when the Philadelphia based Gimble Brothers Department Store, or Gimbels, sponsored the first official Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade served to kick off the holiday season and remind Philadelphians that Gimbels had their holiday needs covered.
This parade is still recognized as the oldest and one of the largest in the country, however, the original name of Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade has changed several times over since the company was taken over and is known today as the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is hands down the largest and most famous parade on Turkey Day. Its grand debut in 1924 showcased the opening of the world's largest store, boasting 1 million square feet of retail space at the start of the holiday shopping season.
The expansion of this Macy's flagship store in Manhattan's Herald Square covers an entire city block spanning from Broadway to 7th Avenue along 34th Street!
Another legendary retailer, J.L. Hudson's, also debuted a holiday parade in downtown Detroit in 1924 – the same year as the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. America's Thanksgiving Parade is the official start of holiday season in the Motor City with its annual two-mile route down historic Woodward Avenue.
Although Hudson's stopped sponsoring the parade in 1979, this event lives on through area corporations and the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation. The Parade Company, the foundation's non-profit faction, organizes the event each year with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
In the wake of these parade pioneers, other popular Thanksgiving Day Parades have sprung up over the decades. We've included a few of these honorable mentions below:
So, take some time this year to enjoy a Thanksgiving tradition as synonymous as the turkey dinner. Thanksgiving Day parades bring some cheer, put the fun in the festivities, and kick off the holiday season in style.
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