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Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Fun Facts!

With Thanksgiving being tomorrow I thought it would be fun to give some history of the Thanksgiving parade that is help in Detroit, Michigan every year! It has been a holiday tradition in Detroit for more than 80 years. It was founded by J.L Hudson’s downtown Detroit’s legendary department store. The parade first rolled down Woodward Avenue in 1924, which is the same year that Macy’s began its parade in New York City.

For generations Michigan families would say the official holiday seasons did not start until the real Santa Claus stepped from the parades final float onto the Woodward marquee of Hudson’s to accept the key to both the city and the hearts of good children everywhere. Santa Claus who would appear at the end of the parade signifies the arrival of the Christmas season. Then the day after Thanksgiving Hudson’s would have children lined up to meet the man in red.

Detroit’s first Thanksgiving parade featured horses pulling a float decorated with Mother Goose, four papier Mache heads and seven marching bands. Over the years the parades size and scope has grown significantly, as it has enterained millions of fans along its two mile route down Woodward with giant balloons, floats, marching bands, cartoon characters, celebrities and more. The parade was first broadcast in 1931 on radio station WWJ. In 1959 the parade came to television on local stations such as WWJ and WXYZ. In 1960 the CBS broadcast network began to air portions of the parade and continues to do so for the next 25 parades.

So whether you want to see the parade in person or on the television you can do that. It is quite a site to see and so much fun for anyone at any age. Also it is free to stand outside and watch it in person.

Below: A picture from one of the 1940s Thanksgiving Day Parade from the Detroit Historical Society

1940's Thanksgiving Day Parade