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7 Great Thanksgiving Parades in the USA

New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, Washington

7 Great Thanksgiving Parades in the USA

By: Lisa Zimmermann

gary718 / Shutterstock.com
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  • States:
    New York
    Pennsylvania
    Illinois
    Texas
    Michigan
    North Carolina
    Washington

Spreading the warmth of the holiday season on streets across the United States is a Thanksgiving tradition.

Many cities in the U.S. begin the season with colorful Thanksgiving parades. Bands, singers, floats, giant balloons and other entertainers march, walk and sometimes soar above wide streets and boulevards. New York City, New York, hosts the best-known and biggest parade, but you can find a celebration whether you’re visiting the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast, the Northeast or somewhere in between. Below are several of the many Thanksgiving festivities you may want to watch November 26 and 27.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

New York City, New York

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City has helped mark the start of the holiday season in the United States since 1924. Each year on Thanksgiving Day more than 3.5 million people in the city — and over 50 million people at home — watch floats, balloons up to five stories tall, Broadway theater performers, musical acts and others parade down Central Park West and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. It’s the most famous Thanksgiving parade in the United States. The route ends on 34th Street in front of the Macy’s in Herald Square, which you may recognize from the classic 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
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Macy's Day Parade

Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you find yourself in Philadelphia for the holiday, don’t miss the Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since 1920, the City of Brotherly Love has welcomed the holiday season with floats, marching bands, choirs and other performers. This is the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the country. It begins at 8:30 a.m. at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard, and concludes around 12 p.m. in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Travel tip: The museum is one of the best spots to watch the parade. For other recommended viewing spots and an interactive map of the parade route, see the event’s website.

Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.

Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.
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jonseidman1988/Flickr

America’s Thanksgiving Parade

Detroit, Michigan

America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit started the same year as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. It may not be as famous, but it has similar strong traditions. Starting at 10 a.m., floats, marching bands and large balloons travel down historic Woodward Avenue, beginning at the Kirby Street intersection and concluding at Congress Street around 12 p.m.

America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit.

America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit.
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Mike_tn/Flickr

H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade

Houston, Texas

The 66th annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston begins at 9 a.m. at Smith and Lamar Streets, with live entertainment, giant balloons, marching bands and even an early-in-the-season appearance by Santa Claus. More than 200,000 parade-goers line the route along the Southwestern city’s streets. The event ends at Smith and Dallas Streets, just a block from where it began. For more parade route details and street closures, check out the event’s website.

H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston.

H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston.
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Ed Uthman/Flickr

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade began in 1934 to lift the spirits of city residents during the Great Depression. Now it’s a holiday tradition in the Windy City. This year’s grand marshal, actor and director David Arquette, will lead a parade of floats, equestrian units, balloons and marching bands through the architectural wonders of downtown Chicago. The procession starts at 8 a.m. at State Street and Congress Parkway, and concludes around 11 a.m. several blocks north at Randolph Street.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago.
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bullywhippit/Flickr

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade

Charlotte, North Carolina

Since 1947, Charlotte has celebrated the holiday season “Charlotte-style” at the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. The procession rolls along Tryon Street through Uptown Charlotte — that’s what locals call the center of the city. Join floats, marching bands, performances, dignitaries, celebrities and balloons starting at 9:30 a.m.

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade in Charlotte.

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade in Charlotte.
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cheriejoyful/flickr

My Macy’s Holiday Parade

Seattle, Washington

Not to be confused with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, My Macy’s Holiday Parade takes place about 4,600 kilometers west in Seattle on the day after Thanksgiving. This parade features 25 inflatable floats, 650 costumed characters, marching bands and more. So if you’re looking for a Thanksgiving parade but don’t want to miss other Thanksgiving Day activities, get downtown before 9 a.m. That’s when the parade starts at 7th Avenue and Pine Street.

My Macy’s Holiday Parade in Seattle.

My Macy’s Holiday Parade in Seattle.
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Cromely/Flickr