If New York is a bit too brisk this time of year, there’s an alternative Thanksgiving Day parade in sunny Charlotte, North Carolina. The Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade is celebrating its 73rd year with the theme “Mile of Smiles” for 2019.
Charlotte’s celebration began as a local holiday parade, but over the years, it has evolved to include performances, floats, marching bands, enormous helium balloons, celebrities and even a few surprises every year. Here’s how to watch this year’s festivities.
The parade will stream live on WBTV’s Facebook page, which is embedded below, and on the parade app. It will also be broadcast on WBTV at 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and again on Christmas Day. If you’re going to be there in person, the parade steps off at 9th Street and heads south on Tryon Street to Stonewall Street. All the fun begins at 9 a.m.
Performers for the 2019 parade include Abby K, Ansley Burns, Brooke McBride, Curt Keys, Greg Cox, Laurel & The Love-In, Montana Modderman, Noel Friedline & Maria Howell, Nolan Neal, and the Rock U Road Show Band.
For the seventh year in a row, there will also be “Segwalloons” — a cross between balloons and Segways, letting the drivers easily interact with the crowd. According to Charlotte on the Cheap, you will only find Segwalloons in Charlotte. The first two were an elf and a snowman, but now they’ve gone on to include dozens of different characters, including colonial figures like George Washington.
Thanksgiving Day parades have a rich history. The granddaddy of them all is not actually the Macy’s parade, but Philadelphia’s Gimbel Brothers-sponsored Thanksgiving procession that ran in 1920. The Macy’s parade, which was called Macy’s Christmas Parade in its first year, started in 1924, as did Detroit’s J.L. Hudson-sponsored Thanksgiving parade. The inclusion of gigantic helium-filled balloons started a few years later when Macy’s debuted Felix the Cat in 1927.