America’s 7 Best Thanksgiving Day Parades

Gingerbread man in Thanksgiving Day paradePass the pumpkin pie and prepare the stretchy pants! Ponder the Christmas decorations that are already out in stores! It’s November, which marks the beginning of the holiday season and more importantly, a food lover’s dream. On a day dedicated to family, football, and feasting until your pants don’t fit, there’s no better way to kick it off than with a parade full of holiday spirit. Check out these seven turkey-ific parades you’ve got to see.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago, IL

Originally started as a Christmas Parade, this parade was first held on Thanksgiving Day back in 1999 and then later renamed for the meaty holiday in 2002. That doesn’t mean that the entertainment has changed, though, and you can bet your green bean casserole that Santa will still be there at the end. Key performances this year include two acts from “America’s Got Talent” and eclectic drummers Tsukasa Taiko. Best views if you’re in the area include anywhere along State Street from Congress to Randolph.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, NY

The most well known parade turns 90 this year and is sure to be bigger than ever. A 3-hour long event, this popular parade has been nationally aired on television since 1952, and features everything from giant balloon characters to live music and dance performances. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually not the oldest one in the US–that honor actually belongs to the parade below…

6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, PA

A parade so great it has two sponsors in its name? You bet. Philly’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is, in fact, the oldest one around and it actually inspired the Macy’s parade in New York. Started in 1920, it’s been going strong for a whopping 96 years. The 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Parade began as a retail-sponsored event and still boasts plenty of hot air balloons, performances, and both national and local celebrities.

Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade in St. Louis, MO

If you’re looking for an award-winning parade, you’ve found it! The Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade was awarded an Emmy in 2015 for its outstanding production. The award is well-deserved too; with over 130 different floats, performances, and appearances, it’s the largest in its region by far. Looking for a great place to watch while you’re there? Steal a spot on Washington Avenue!

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade in Charlotte, NC

Kick off the holiday season in Charlotte with a parade that’s been around since 1947. Originally called the Christmas Caravan, it was created in 1934 to help lift the spirits of those suffering through the Great Depression. Crowds of over 100,000 people gather for this local tradition that started off small. Today, it boasts over 5,000 performers. The parade not only features regional acts and balloons of your favorite characters, but spectacular high school marching bands from around the country also compete for a $10,000 prize.

H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston, TX

A 67-year old holiday tradition, this parade began when Santa flew into town on his sleigh straight into the downtown Houston retail store, Foley’s. This year, the holiday spirit will stay strong with over 400,000 people in attendance, an appearance by U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, and Houston Rocket’s beloved Dwight Howard as the grand marshall. Will he dress up as an elf? You’ll have to watch to find out!

My Macy’s Holiday Parade in Seattle, WA

Let’s be clear: this is in Seattle, not NYC! This Seattle favorite boasts over 650 costumed characters, 25 inflatable floats, and plenty of bands playing crowd-pleasing favorites. What some don’t know? While Santa always makes an appearance at the end, be sure not to miss the lighting of the Holiday Star later this same day. For 60 years, this 161-foot high and 3,600-bulb star has been, well, the star of Seattle’s holiday season! A fireworks display follows shortly after, weather permitting, and is the ultimate bang to start off the holidays.

Phew, that’s a lot of balloons. This Thanksgiving, eat all the turkey you can, turn into a balloon yourself, and promptly take a nap. You’ll need your beauty rest to gear up for the holiday season.

Keen to do more than just turkey trot around these cities? See what’s it’s like living there year round. Visit to shop recently listed apartments for rent in the city of your choice!

Now, can someone help me out with these pants? They seem to be stuck…