Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade and It’s Many Names


Written by Dustin Ford

It’s 1934 and Chicago has been in the Great Depression for six years. The people are restless and the future seems dim. State Street Councilman Walter Gregory is sitting in his office holding a stiff drink and rubbing his temples. What could they do to bring Chicagoans out of this rut? And then it hit him. The next day he kicks down the doors of Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly with an idea, a Christmas Parade. That, more or less, is how that happened.

The original parades were held in December and funded by the city. Back then this was called the Christmas Caravan because it has more of a Winter theme. Despite this being a huge hit, Chicago’s poor financial status next year would cause the City to have significant cutbacks. It was at this time that the parade then became the State Street Christmas Parade. These events were still increasing in popularity, but financial statuses hadn’t increased much. It wasn’t until 1984 that the parade started getting sponsored, where it became the McDonald’s Children’s Charity Parade. It was because of sponsors like these that the festivities were able to continue. The responsibility would then be picked up from different businesses over the years.

In the 1990s it became the Brach’s Kids Holiday Parade. Later on, in 1998 it was sponsored by Marshall Field’s and became the Jingle Elf Parade. Target joined Marshall’s next year under the same name. This 1999 parade became the first one to be on Thanksgiving Day. It wasn’t until 2002 that Target took the reigns in the Target Thanksgiving Parade. In 2003 the ‘State Street Thanksgiving Parade’ took hold for a while until 2006 when the clown returned with the ‘McDonalds’s Thanksgiving Parade’. Finally, 2018 saw the creation of the Uncle Dan’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This brings us to this year’s ‘Chicago Thanksgiving Parade’. It will take place on Thanksgiving, November 28th from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on State Street. This event has all the floats and performances you’ve come to expect with a few new faces. Local businesses from around the city will show off their own floats along with marching bands, horseback riders, and dancing acts and performances! Who could forget about those giant balloons? Get ready to see Spongebob, Garfield, the Muppets, and much more soaring up in the clouds on this momentous day.

It’s a staple of Thanksgiving to watch these parades, so be sure to check it out. You won’t want to miss out on this time-honored tradition. Who knows what it could be called next year!

Check out our blog for more cool things to do during the holidays.

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