America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Detroit celebrates holiday

The weather may have been terrible, but the floats, bands, and crowds were delightful on Thursday as Detroit kicked off the holiday season with its downtown America’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Gray clouds covered the Detroit sky as a light drizzle fell on the city streets and the air was cool.

The parade rolled down Woodward Avenue on Thursday to celebrate the fall break. People from all over Michigan gathered to see the traditional balloons, decorative floats, marching bands and dance teams, and of course, to see Santa Claus.

The Cookie Monster was one of several rubber dinghies that roamed Woodward Avenue during the American Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit on November 25, 2021.

Mayor Mike Duggan partnered with Old St. Nick to wish the Detroiters a happy Thanksgiving and to remind attendees to keep smiling. Duggan also gave Santa a key to town as they both wished everyone a Merry Christmas.

While downtown Detroit didn’t have perfect parade weather, a little rain didn’t put viewers off.

“It wasn’t nearly as cold or rainy as I expected,” said Sean Quigley.

Quigley, a participant in the parade, brought his daughters Kat and Emily to enjoy the celebration, but this is not their first rodeo. You’ve been watching the parade for the past four or five years, said the father.

“I think it was probably Kermit the Frog,” said Sean Quigley when asked about his favorite balloon. “It was kind of big and exciting, and then it almost came across the street, right where we were, so there was a bit of drama too.”

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Dexter's Logan Singer, 3, looks up in awe as the large inflatable cookie monster rides over him during the American Thanksgiving Day Parade on Woodward Avenue in Detroit on November 25, 2021.

Kayla Brown, who lives in Wyandotte but attends North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, said it was fun to see the parade and be back home with friends and family.

“I’m fresh out of college so my family traditionally comes to the parade,” Brown said. “So I was really excited to see all the cars and people and just be home.”

In 2020, due to the severity of the pandemic, the parade was curtailed, missing a piece of Thanksgiving tradition in the city. Paradego and Detroit Nia Pasha said it made the holidays feel more present.

The Detroit Public Schools All-City High School Marching Band performs in front of the Fox Theater during America's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Woodward Avenue in Detroit on November 25, 2021.

“I didn’t get a chance to see the Thanksgiving Parade last year due to COVID.

America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a Detroit tradition that the city and its people have missed. Now is the time to take care of the turkeys, get to the greens, and have fun with the family.

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