The Motor City definitely knows how to party, which is why a fun alternative to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, Mich. This parade may not be as famous as Macy’s, but it is just as old — they both began in 1924.
In Detroit, each year thousands of spectators line Woodward Avenue to watch the floats, helium balloons, marching bands, and specialty acts. If you can’t be there in person, here’s how to watch.
The parade kicks off at 8:45 a.m. local time and is broadcast locally on WDIV 4, with coverage hosted by anchors Devin Scillian, Kimberly Gill, Rhonda Walker, Evrod Cassimy and Ben Bailey. There is also radio coverage on WJR 760 AM and WOMC 104.3 FM, all beginning at 9 a.m. The parade will also stream live at Click on Detroit.
This parade, which is celebrating its 93rd year with the theme “Detroit Shining Bright,” will feature larger-than-life ballons of Captain Underpants, Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, Animal the Muppet and many more. There are also three new balloons making their debut this year: Kung Fu Panda, Regal Eagle, and Holiday Elmo. There are also performances by the Mid American Pom Pon Team, the Detroit Fire Department Clowns, and several marching bands, plus a new “Big Head” float featuring longtime Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo.
The grand marshals for the parade are Mayor Dennis W. Archer and the Detroit Youth Choir, who just competed on America’s Got Talent earlier this year. Other celebrities include 1984 Detroit Tigers World Champions Lance Parrish and Dave Rozema, Disney star Isaac Ryan Brown, singers Keynote Sisters Phoebe and Jaclyn, and singer Christina Kateri. After the parade wraps, the Detroit Youth Choir will perform at Ford Field with Grammy-winning artist Nelly.
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.