The Parade Has Plenty Of History

Published On: Nov 15 2011 11:32:57 AM EST
Updated On: Nov 23 2003 09:03:37 AM EST

Everyone loves a parade! And, Metro Detroiters are no exception.

In the early days, the parade drew more than 100,000 spectators. Today, nearly one million spectators line Woodward Avenue to see America's Thanksgiving Parade.

In 1924, four adult bands, four papier mache heads worn by marchers, ten floats including The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe and Mother Goose, and bands from three area high schools charmed the spectators along Woodward.

The next year doubled in size with 300 Hudson's employees marching and horses and wagons pulling 26 floats. A live elephant, in The Parade to promote a toy sold at Hudson's, was the star of the show.

Each year, the fun and fantasy of The Parade grew. Reports of the 1939 Parade showed that there were eight brass bands and 1,008 assorted characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Donald Duck made a big splash that year, as did the world's largest candy cane.

Increased excitement about The Parade led to local television coverage in 1948. Four years later, The Parade was televised nationally.

A weakening economy resulted in Hudson's solicitation of sponsors in the late 1970s for what was then known as the Michigan Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 1979, Hudson's relinquished primary sponsorship of the event. Control of the parade was taken over by Detroit Renaissance until 1983, when the civic, not-for-profit Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation assumed the reins. Since 1986, the Foundation's wholly owned, not-for-profit subsidiary, The Parade Company, has produced the annual America's Thanksgiving Parade.®

Detroit has the only fully comprehensive Parade Studio in the world. The Parade Company staff design and produce floats, balloons, costumes and papier-mache heads in the 218,500-square foot studio, in addition to staging the mystical adventure on Woodward each year.

As a not-for-profit organization, The Parade Company relies on corporate support. This is different from most other parades, where individual corporations and organizations often pay an entry fee to participate and then contract with commercial float builders to manufacture the floats.

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