The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is certainly the most famous one, but there are nearly a dozen other Turkey Day parades happening all across the United States on Thursday (Nov. 28). The most unusual one is definitely the Oscar Leeser Hyundai of El Paso Sun Bowl Parade.
The Sun Bowl currently features a matchup between roughly the fourth-best teams from the Pac-12 and the ACC, depending on how the college football playoffs shake out. And yes, this matchup in one of the oldest bowl games still being played doesn’t take place until New Year’s Eve, but the parade, which began in 1935, has been held on Thanksgiving Day since 1978. It is the largest community event in the West Texas/New Mexico/Mexico area, annually drawing a crowd of over 250,000 spectators.
Twenty-nineteen marks the parade’s 83rd overall year. TV coverage is being broadcast by local NBC affiliate KTSM Channel 9 beginning at 10 a.m. MT and the parade is streaming live below or at the KTSM website.
The parade’s 2019 theme is “Bobble Heads” and the organizers are expecting 100 units, including floats, equestrian units, clowns, marching bands, drum and bugle corps units, local celebrities, specialty units that include local Mexican/Native American dancers, and military ceremonial units.
The 2019 grand marshal is El Paso author Ron Stallworth, the real-life retired police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado in the 1970s. The 2018 Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman starring John David Washington is based on Stallworth’s book of the same name; it won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars ceremony last February.
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.