America's Thanksgiving Parade

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America's Thanksgiving Parade
GenreParade
Date(s)Thanksgiving Day
FrequencyAnnual
Location(s)Detroit, Michigan, United States
Years active87
Inaugurated1924
Most recentNovember 28, 2013[dated info]
Patron(s)The Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation (since 1982)
Website
theparade.org
 
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America's Thanksgiving Parade
GenreParade
Date(s)Thanksgiving Day
FrequencyAnnual
Location(s)Detroit, Michigan, United States
Years active87
Inaugurated1924
Most recentNovember 28, 2013[dated info]
Patron(s)The Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation (since 1982)
Website
theparade.org

America's Thanksgiving Parade, is an annual American parade held on Thanksgiving Day in downtown Detroit, Michigan. The tradition started in the city in 1924 by the J.L. Hudson Company department store. It shares the title for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, New York and is four years younger than the 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1][2]

History[edit]

The idea came from Hudson's display director Charles Wendel after the success of the Canadian Eaton's Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, Ontario. In addition to the usual floats and bands, Wendel obtained large papier-mâché heads similar to those he saw during a recent trip to Europe. The heads are made in Viareggio, Italy, and remain a fixture of the parade to the present.[3]

The parade was suspended in 1943 and 1944 due to material shortages caused by World War II, but Hudson's resumed the event in 1945 and continued sponsorship of the parade until 1979 when the costs became burdensome. It turned the parade over to the Detroit Renaissance Foundation who produced it for four years. In 1983, Detroit Renaissance transferred control of the parade to the newly created Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation. "America's Thanksgiving Parade" is a registered trademark of the foundation.[4]

Parade details[edit]

The parade features a variety of floats, marching bands, and balloons with the climax being the arrival of Santa Claus who appears at the end to herald the arrival of the Christmas season. Unique to the parade are The Big Head Corps, featuring a large collection of papier-mâché heads,[5] and the Distinguished Clown Corps, which features local corporate and community leaders dressed as clowns.[6] The parade is made possible through the efforts of over 4,500 volunteers.[7]

Broadcasts[edit]

The parade was first broadcast in 1931 on radio station WWJ.[8]

In 1959, the parade came to television on local stations WWJ-TV and WXYZ-TV. The WXYZ program was hosted by ventriloquist and puppeteer Shari Lewis and her sock puppet Lamb Chop and carried nationally on the ABC broadcast network. In 1960, the CBS broadcast network began to air portions of the parade and continued to do so for the next twenty-five parades.[9] After a brief break in the mid-1980s, CBS returned to cover the parade through 2002 as part of its All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade compilation show. Over the years, several other well-known personalities were commentators for the Detroit parades, including John Amos, Ned Beatty, Kathy Garver, Captain Kangaroo host Bob Keeshan, Linda Lavin, Esther Rolle and Andrew Stevens.[10]

After being broadcast on WWJ, later WDIV, for over twenty years, local coverage switched to WXYZ for several years in the 1980s before returning to NBC-affiliate WDIV in the mid-1990s.[11] It is televised on other stations around Michigan and across the U.S., as well as through Internet television. The coverage of the parade typically includes a preshow featuring a variety of musical acts, often with celebrity performers. The coverage concludes with the Mayor of Detroit giving Santa Claus the key to the city.

Parade route[edit]

Since 2006, the parade has taken place on Woodward Avenue, starting near Woodward and Mack Avenues, and ending at Congress Street. This is the route the first parade followed in 1924.[12] The parade travels toward downtown from Mack Avenue, after crossing over I-75 it enters Foxtown, near Detroit's Fox Theatre, the Hockeytown Cafe, and Comerica Park. From Foxtown, the parade passes through Grand Circus Park then into the business district where it then enters the television coverage area near Grand River and Gratiot Avenues.[13] The route was from this route for several years during the construction of Campus Martius Park and realignment of Woodward Avenue and other adjacent streets. The construction was completed in 2004.

For many years, ending with Hudson's withdrawal in 1979, the parade began at Woodward and Putnam near the Detroit Public Library and ended at Hudson's Marquee near Gratiot Avenue where Santa alighted his sleigh and received the key to the hearts of children of Detroit from the mayor.[3] In 1979, the route was moved several blocks north beginning at Antoinette Street and ending at Adams Street near Grand Circus Park. During this period, Santa alighted on the steps of the Detroit Institute of Arts to be welcomed by the mayor, then remounted to travel the remainder of the parade route.

For a period, the parade route was moved to Second Avenue because electrical wires which powered the Woodward Avenue streetcars posed a hazard to floats and their riders. Streetcars ceased operating on Woodward Avenue in 1956 when the Detroit Department of Street Railways converted switched to an all-motor-bus fleet.[14]

Parade foundation[edit]

The Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation was begun in 1982 to manage, organize and raise funds for the parade.[4] In 1990, The Parade Company was founded as a foundation division to oversee operations and marketing activities.[3]

In addition to the parade, The Parade Company assumed responsibility for organizing the annual Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival in 1989 and helped to plan Stanley Cup victory parades for the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Our Daily Holiday Quiz". Fox12 Oregon (KPTV.com). Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  2. ^ Theresa Plowright. "Thanksgiving Day Parades". About.com. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b c "Michigan History: Detroit's Thanksgiving Day Parade". The Detroit News. November 26, 1999. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "About the Parade Company". The Parade Company. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Big Head Corps". The Parade Company. 
  6. ^ "Distinguished Clown Corps". The Parade Company. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  7. ^ Sternberg, Laura (November 5, 2010). "Information About the 2010 America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit". About.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ Pitrone, Jean Maddern (1991). Hudson's: Hub of America's Heartland. West Bloomfield, Michigan: Altwerger and Mandel Publishing. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-878005-18-2. 
  9. ^ Pitrone, Jean Maddern (1991). Hudson's: Hub of America's Heartland. West Bloomfield, Michigan: Altwerger and Mandel Publishing. pp. 121–122. ISBN 978-1-878005-18-2. 
  10. ^ Butler, Kevin (November 1989). "CBS All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade Jubilees". TVparty.com. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  11. ^ "WXYZ-TV To Provide Live Coverage of the Michigan Thanksgiving Day Parade". Highwire.com (via PR Newswire). November 15,1989. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Parade Route 2007". WDIV-TV. November 13, 2006. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  13. ^ "See the Official Parade Route". WDIV-TV. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  14. ^ "The D.S.R. Years". Detroit Transit History.info. March 13, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 

External links[edit]