Downtown Chicago’s Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade features performances, giant character floats and more

Excited for Turkey Day? Well, if you’re not the relative who’s slaving all day in the kitchen this year, come out to Downtown Chicago’s 80th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade!
This year, the parade will feature a dozen giant character balloons, marching bands, festive floats, cultural groups, equestrian groups, theatrical performances and celebrity guests, according to Carole Kuhrt Brewer of ChicagoNow. The festivities will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. down State Street between Congress and Randolph Street.

Sponsored by McDonald’s this year, the Thanksgiving Day Parade draws about 400,000 spectators to the Loop. Mr. Ronald McDonald will lead the parade of over 100 units as honorary grand marshal. The event originally started in 1934 when Walter Gregory, president of the State Street Council, launched the State Street Christmas Caravan in order to encourage economic development on the street, and to cheer Chicagoans up during the Depression era. The Christmas Caravan was originally held on December 7, and consisted of toys and merchandise from stores all along State Street.

For 2013, we can expect performances by many outstanding groups, including the ever popular Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey with “Built to Amaze,” which will be the 143rd production of “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Other staged performances include Emerald City Theatre’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Black Ensemble Theater’s performance of Jackie Taylor’s The Story of Curtis Mayfield, the Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker and Theatre at the Center’s A Christmas Carol.

More to expect will be slew of high school marching bands, majestic horses and 12 giant character balloons flying high, like Curious George, Pac-Man, Garfield, Tazmanian Devil, Tweety and more.

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