Stephen Schreck a RoamRight Blog Author

The Best Thanksgiving Parades in America

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual parade presented by the U.S. chain store business Macy's CT

Image source: Flickr - Anne Fisher

Thanksgiving is an exciting holiday celebrated across America with family and friends gathering for a day filled with love and thankfulness, joy and laughter, and a veritable feast as far as the eye can see. 

Imagine a massive turkey with all the trimmings, candied sweet potatoes and the scent of homemade apple pie wafting from the oven; I can already feel my waistline expanding.

One word that is synonymous with Thanksgiving is parades. Some of my fondest memories growing up are of sitting on the couch, counting down the minutes until the Thanksgiving feast while watching the parades on TV. 

The sights, the sounds, and the energy are electrifying as you wait in anticipation for the next awesome surprise coming around the corner. Here are a few thanksgiving parades that have established their reputations as the best and the brightest in America.

Macy’s Grand Thanksgiving Parade - New York, New York

The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York is the second oldest parade in America and tops the list of one of the grandest of all. Boasting the best bands in the land, top musical performances, and high energy from start to finish, this parade attracts almost 4,000,000 spectators each year. 

It is a mixture of modern and traditional, old and new with many of the old classic balloons still making their appearances. Families who want to take part in this larger than life display of marching bands, gorgeous floats, celebrities galore and giant soaring cartoon characters start picking out the best spot weeks before the parade. 

They have everything prepared days before and arrive at their sought after spot long before dawn. For those who really want to get in parade mood, hop downtown the night before and watch the inflating of the balloons. The parade begins promptly at 9:00 am at Central Park West at 77th Street and winds through the city until it reaches Macy's on 34th Street. 

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade - Chicago, Illinois

One of the top three, McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago always promises a good show on the big screen. 

Appearances from the Harlem Globetrotters, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Santa and his elves and of course, Ronald McDonald, are just a few of the big names joining the parade this year. Many families make this parade part of their Thanksgiving Day tradition and if you happen to be anywhere nearby, you should head down to State Street and see the action for yourself. 

If not, you can still enjoy all the excitement on TV. Be sure to set your alarms for 8:00 a.m. sharp to get in on all the fun. 

“Big Heads” Thanksgiving Parade - Detroit, Michigan

If you want a parade that is crazy, fun and completely different, then head to Detroit, Michigan. Not only does Detroit start its celebration in October with a big pre-parade party, but it hosts a parade like none other. 

This parade features impressive bands and colorful floats, but the crowd favorite is the so-called “Big Heads." These are massive paper-mâché heads that look like bobble heads and are dressed as hilarious animals, funny clowns and famous celebrities. 

Some of the heads include Diana Ross, President Ford, Sparky Anderson, Rosa Parks, Tom Selleck and more. 

The Big Head Parade travels down Woodward Avenue starting at Mack by 9:20 a.m. However, the activity actually starts at 7:30 a.m. for those who want to participant in the Turkey Trot, a pre-parade road race with many runners in full costume. There are so many activities building up to the parade that it promises to be a great time.

The Hometown Thanksgiving Parade - Plymouth, Massachusetts

Considered the birthplace of America, Thanksgiving in Plymouth is not a one-day family get together but an entire rockin' weekend celebration. It was here in 1621, that the very first Thanksgiving was held and today, for this part of the country, the festivities begin with an energetic, spectacular military flyover followed by the famous parade that starts at the Waterfront area. 

This patriotic parade provides a look through a dramatic, historical display into what the 17th-century American way of life meant. The town comes alive with tours, markets and historical characters and when the weekend is over, you will come away with a renewed love for your country.

The H- E -B Parade - Houston, Texas

They say that everything in Texas is big and their Thanksgiving Parade, in its 65th year, is no exception. The celebration starts early here for both sponsors and spectators alike. As floats near completion in early November, spectators are encouraged to help with the finishing touches. 

Everyone is invited to participate in the meet and greet with the sponsors which really is a wonderful time to get up close and preview the coming attractions. 

Of course, all this activity builds excitement for the big day which starts at 9:00 a.m. It features six giant, floating cartoon characters, six ornate floats, thousands of cheerleaders, bands, clowns and talented musicians. Just between us, I think the best views can be had at Congress and San Jacinto Street.

Thanksgiving parades are dramatic showcases like none other that have earned a reputation of being grand and ostentatious. Larger than life balloons soar above the crowds, colorful floats pass by to the sound of marching bands and sports and movie stars grace them. Who doesn't love a parade? And if by chance you are lucky, just maybe you will get a glimpse of Santa and his elves as well. So while the turkey is basting and the scent of apple pie fills the air, don't forget to make a little time this holiday season, to sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the best parades in the world.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving Day parades?

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.

About the Author

Stephen Schreck

Stephen Schreck, a RoamRight Blog Author Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

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