Thanksgiving parades: more than just Macy’s

Looking for a good old-fashioned Thanksgiving parade, but aren’t up for Macy’s? Or perhaps you’re looking for the excitement and crowds of the Macy’s parade, but live on the wrong coast? Well, we’ve done some research here at Gadling and come up with 5 lesser-known parades worth checking out.

1.) America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration — Plymouth, Massachusetts

What better place to celebrate Thanksgiving than its birthplace? In their twelfth year, the festivities at Plymouth include music, historical reenactments, vintage American cars and hand-made floats. There’s also a food festival, where you can sample a variety of New England’s “culinary delights.” The events are sponsored by the Plymouth Rock Foundation, a non-profit organization that “strives to keep the traditions and values of early Americans from being forgotten.” I wonder if the historical reenactments will include stoning or the wearing of a scarlet letter?

The parade actually takes place on Saturday, November 17, which is the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Read all about it here.

%Gallery-9415%2.) America’s Thanksgiving Parade — Detroit, Michigan

The website for Detroit’s Turkey Day parade absolutely gushes with enthusiasm and pride. Apparently, this parade has “captured the imaginations of millions of children and their families for generations.” Whoa. If any of you have seen Waiting for Guffman, (incidentally my favorite movie) you might understand the eagerness of this website. But I digress. Here’s what the organizers have to say about their upcoming parade:

On November 22, 2007 we will celebrate the success of the great city of Detroit. Over the past decade, Detroit has seen some major transformations; new businesses, entertainment, restaurants, sporting and cultural events, festivals and of course PARADES!! With the exciting rebirth of the downtown area…the 2007 Parade celebrates “Hats off Detroit!”

If you’re at the parade, you can take part in a 10k “Turkey Trot,” 5k “Stuffing Strut,” or the “Mashed Potato Mile.” But maybe hold off on dinner until after you’ve run the race.

3.) McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade — Chicago, Illinois

This parade boasts “giant helium balloons, fabulous floats, award-winning marching bands, talented equestrian units, unique performance groups, and local and national celebrities.” What more could you ask for? The procession travels north on State Street from Congress to Randolph. Organizers expect 400,000 spectators and 1.5 million viewers. If you’re in the area but don’t feel like leaving your couch, catch the live broadcast on WGN-TV and WGN-DT 9.1 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. You’ll find more information here.

4.) Mother Goose Parade — El Caljon, California

Entering its 61st year, the Mother Goose Parade sets itself apart by offering what many other Thanksgiving festivals cannot — sunshine. If the threat of a Nor’Easter is keeping your buttocks firmly attached to your couch during all the Thanksgiving fun, it might be time to consider a little light therapy. Held on November 18th, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, this procession doesn’t start until the afternoon, which allows you ample time to lounge around poolside beforehand. But be warned: spectators begin lining up at 8:00 a.m.

5.) 6ABC/Boscov’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Although the Macy’s parade tends to steal the limelight as the nation’s biggest, Philly’s parade was actually our nation’s first — it began in 1920. Not that the anyone’s bitter or anything. The march lasts more than three hours and features 13 marching bands, floats, balloons, a 1,000-member youth choir, a tap dance troupe, and all the Disney characters. Santa takes up the rear, so you might want to have your Christmas list ready.

This one takes place on November 22, starts at 8:00 a.m., and is free. More info here.

Finally, for those traditionalists out there, be sure to check out our gallery of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day floats. Little on this planet can compare with the eye-popping wonder of these mega-balloons!