Detroit News Thanksgiving Parade article


Our 84th Thanksgiving Day parade is ready to roll

Event features 29 floats, celebrities, bands, fun runs and lots more on Thursday

URSULA WATSON
The Detroit News

For thousands of Metro Detroiters, America's Thanksgiving Parade is just as much a tradition as gobbling up a hearty, tryptophan-laden dinner. On Thursday morning, throngs of parade-goers will line Woodward Avenue between Mack and Congress to see grand, colorful floats, local and national celebrities and Santa Claus.

Live coverage of the two-hour parade will air on WDIV-TV (Channel 4) and be heard on 760-AM (WJR). Sixty-five million viewers will watch the first hour of the America's Thanksgiving Parade when it's broadcasted nationally.

This year's co-grand marshals are radio personality Dick Purtan and Anthony Earley Jr., DTE Energy executive chairman of the board.

The recently retired Purtan who spent 14 of his 45 years on the air on 104.3-FM (WOMC), calls the parade a top-notch event. And the National Radio Hall of Famer does have some insight, after all. He racked up 10 years as the parade's master of ceremonies.

"This is not a B or C class parade, it's first class," Purtan says. "From the floats to costumes, it is major league."

Michigan stars join fun

America's Thanksgiving Parade offers plenty of star power, many of them Michigan natives, with appearances from "One Tree Hill" actress Jana Kramer, R&B singer/songwriter Dwele and 2010 Winter Olympic silver medalists/ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

This will be the first parade appearance from Davis, who's from West Bloomfield, and she says she's looking forward to the experience.

"The whole thing is a pretty big deal," Davis says. "You look at the floats, company sponsors, the people who participate, it is quite a process."

Also scheduled to appear are rapper/D.J. Biz Markie, a regular on the Nick Jr. children's program "Yo Gabba Gabba!," and "Days of Our Lives" star Deidre Hall.

And, as in previous parades, Santa Claus, the biggest star of all, will make a stop. But this year there will be a twist, says Grand Marshall Earley.

"It is an improved Santa moment where he will receive the key to the city (of Detroit)," Earley says. But instead of Santa getting off his sleigh float to receive the key at WDIV's TV Zone, where he normally stops, Earley explains, Santa will keep moving to Campus Martius at the end of the parade route.

"This way no one gets cheated on the Santa-moment," Earley says.

See new floats, old favorites

While it seems almost impossible to come up with new stuff for an 84-year-old parade, it miraculously happens.

This year will feature 29 floats, four of which are new. Also, Mrs. Claus will get in on the fun at the Parade Plaza, open 7 a.m. to noon. Parade Plaza is a new heated tented area at Grand Circus Park that will offer parade-goers sanctuary from the cold.

There, families can enjoy free giveaways, meet parade characters and either drop off their holiday wish lists for Santa or compose them on the spot and leave them in the capable hands of Mrs. Claus.

Or folks can cross-off items on their gift lists while at "Clownie's Closet" and purchase official 2010 parade merchandise. All proceeds benefit The Parade Company, the nonprofit organization that produces America's Thanksgiving Parade, and the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation.

While there is plenty of new at the parade, old favorites will return as well.

At the "parade before the parade," the 28th annual Fifth Third Turkey Trot, folks can warm up for the 10k run at the 8th Annual Mashed Potato Mile, which is a great event for children. Lastly, there is the 5th annual S3 (Strategic Staffing Solutions) Stuffing Strut 5k run. Proceeds from those pre-parade events benefit The Parade Company.

If Thursday's events don't fill you up, get more Thanksgiving cheer in your life at "A Day in Paradeland" on Saturday. In addition to games, arts and crafts and treats, get a close-up look at the parade floats and mingle with Santa Claus.

America's Thanksgiving Parade

9:20 a.m. Thursday

Woodward Avenue, between Mack Avenue and Congress, Detroit Tickets free; grandstand seats are sold outCall (313) 923-7400 Visit www.theparade.org

28th annual Fifth Third Turkey Trot

7:30 a.m. Thursday

Registration fee: $40 for the Turkey Trot and the Stuffing Strut; $20 for the Mashed Potato Mile; additional donations can be made during registration to The Parade Company and the Special Olympics of Michigan Participants can register online or on race day at Cobo Center, 1 Washington Blvd., DetroitCall (313) 247-4149For walk and run maps, visit www.theparade.org To be of additional help, bring canned goods for Gleaners Food Bank of Michigan

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