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Don’t Let Thanksgiving Parades Pass You By

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Floats

If you love a parade, then Thanksgiving is a prime time to travel and see some of America’s premier cities all decked out for the holiday season. With celebrations taking place from New York to Seattle, there are plenty of choices.

For a taste of history with your turkey, head to Plymouth, Massachusetts—about 40 miles south of Boston. It’s the spot where the Mayflower landed in 1620 and, a year later, the Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving with their Wampanoag Indian neighbors. The town’s Thanksgiving parade takes place November 19, and begins with a ceremony on the historic waterfront. For a look at how the Pilgrims lived, visit nearby Plimoth Plantation, with re-creations of a Wampanoag homesite and 17th-century English village.

Travelers to New York and Philadelphia will be able to watch two of the nation’s oldest and most iconic parades. This year marks the 90th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, as well as the 96th Philadelphia parade. Both step off on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, November 24, with floats and marching bands on the ground, while giant balloons float overhead. This year, the Macy’s parade will unveil a brand new Charlie Brown balloon to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Peanuts’ musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

In the Midwest, Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis all have long traditions of Thanksgiving Day parades. In addition to balloons and floats, the St. Louis parade features restored antique cars and fire trucks. This year, Detroit’s parade, which takes place along historic Woodward Avenue, will feature a Rosie the Riveter drill team, honoring women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II. Chicago’s parade, created in 1934 to help lift the spirits of the city’s residents during the Great Depression, features more than a hundred units, including marching bands from across the country, floats, dance companies, and equestrian teams.

For travelers who want to celebrate the holiday in a warmer climate, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Houston, Texas both have parades on Thanksgiving Day. Charlotte’s, which kicks off the city’s holiday season, includes dance and choral performances as well as more than a dozen marching bands. The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, about 30 minutes away, will be decorated for the holidays with thousands of lights and illuminated displays from November 18 to New Year’s Day. In addition to balloons, floats, and bands, Houston’s H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade is expected to have two Olympic medal winners as grand marshals—swimmer, Simone Manuel and gymnast, Simone Biles.

Seattle’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is part of a weekend of festivities. The Macy’s Holiday Parade takes place November 25, the day after Thanksgiving. While the parade is in the morning, the evening offers up the lighting of the Macy’s Star along with a fireworks display. The day after Thanksgiving also marks the opening of Winterfest at the Seattle Center, with food, ice sculpting, family activities, concerts, and seasonal décor. For some additional Christmas spirit, stop by Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel to see the Festival of Trees.

For help planning a Thanksgiving getaway, contact us at (719) 597-0004.

© Travel Leaders Group