Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade Preview

By Christy Ayala,

Parades are a holiday tradition in Philadelphia. Billed as the country’s oldest parade, Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade along Market Street was first sponsored by Gimbels Department Store in 1920. Since then, the parade  has served as an inspiration to all the other Thanksgiving Day Parades that are now as much a part of the holiday as the turkey.

Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

Where: 20th and JFK Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 599-0776
When: Nov. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to noon
Price: free

Parade Route
The parade still follows Market Street and the crowd-pleasing balloons, floats, marching bands and special performances are a family favorite for many. Stepping off at JFK BLVD and 20th, the parade turns left on 16th Street and then continues NW on the Ben Franklin Parkway, finishing up at Eakins Oval.

Getting There
All Septa Trains, Trolleys and Buses will run on holiday schedules, with the parade route easily accessed by Regional Rail from the Suburban Station. Metered parking is free Thanksgiving Day, but you need to pay attention to all posted “No Parking” signage, as they will be enforced.

Beginning Wednesday, November 21, no parking zones will be posted in preparation for the parade, to include:

  • Both sides of the street along  JFK BLVD from 19th Street to 30th Street
  • 20th Street beginning at Market Street to Ben Franklin Parkway
  • Arch Street from 19th Street to 22nd Street
  • Race Street from 16th Street to 17th Street
  • 17th Street from Vine Street to Race Street

Best Places to Watch

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art Steps
  • Logan Circle
  • Love Park
  • Winter Wonderland Expo Tent

Balloons and Floats

Dunkin Donuts, Walt Disney World, and Radio Disney are just a few of the floats that will pass by to the  delight of the crowds. Parents and tots alike love the balloons, with Cookie Monster, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Elmo, Frosty The Snowman, and Bugs Bunny sure to steal the show.

Marching Bands and More
You can’t have a parade without a marching band, and this parade has marching bands from high schools around the country, including the Tournament of Bands All Star Marching Band with members from high schools in 14 states. And don’t miss local Pennsbury High School’s “The Long Orange Line.”

Dancers representing tap schools from throughout the Mid Atlantic will dazzle the crowds, and choirs performing this Thanksgiving Day come from near and far, including local communities such as Cheltenham High School, Downingtown East High School, Souderton Area High School, Upper Dublin High School and Central Bucks High School.

Entertainment is non-stop with special appearances by the Tournament of Bands All Star Color Guard, the LuLu Shrine Klownz, and the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. There will be no holding back all the Eagles fans in the crowds when they cheer for SWOOP, the Philadelphia Eagles Mascot, the Eagles Cheerleaders and the Philadelphia Eagles Drum Line.

Special Guests
No Thanksgiving Day Parade is a success without Santa and Mrs.Claus, who will, of course, be on hand to signal the official start of the holiday season.

Special guests this year include local Olympians Heather O’Rielly and Carli Lloyd, the cast of “The Music Man,” and Walt Disney Characters, including Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

Fans won’t want to miss special appearances by “American Idol” finalist Justin Guarini, and Frenchie Davis from “The Voice.” Adding star power to the lineup are Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies, “Good Morning America’s” Sam Champion, and Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler.

Winter Wonderland Expo
The parade ends at Eakins Oval, where the Winter Wonderland Expo sits west of the Ben Franklin Parkway and 22nd Street. Parade sponsors will be on hand to provide information about activities for the family, and hand out giveaways from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Food Drive
No Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade is complete without the holiday food drive, so don’t forget to bring along cans and non-perishables for one of the drop offs during the parade.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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