Perhaps more than any other holiday Thanksgiving is a time to embrace traditions. Many of use keep the same routines for years, even decades on this day. My own Thanksgiving tradition has changed very slightly in my life. A couple of places, a few names, but Thanksgiving still has the same feel that it did to me thirty years ago when I was a kid. My Thanksgiving, along with millions of other Michiganders, begins with the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade. The name has changed a bit over the 80 years the parade has taken place, but whether you watch on TV or are one of the million spectators who goes to see it live, the parade is still one of our great traditions.
Started in 1924 by the J.L. Hudson's Dept. store, the Detroit Thanksgiving parade has grown to become the third largest parade in the nation behind the Rose parade in Pasadena, and the Macy's parade in New York. In this great book from Arcadia press, we get a look back at the rich history of the parade from its earliest days right up until the 21st century. Accompanied with over 200 archival photographs we get a glimpse at what the parade was like throughout the decades and how parade organizers have changed to reflect the times.
Marching bands have always been a key player in the parade and bands from all over the nation are honored when they are asked to participate. The photographs do a great job of highlighting not only local high schools, but bands from high schools as far away as Oregon and Texas. A staple for many years in the parade was the "Blue Pigs" a rock/jazz band made up of Detroit police officers.
Floats were a part of the very first parade in 1924 which featured a horse drawn Mother Goose float. Over the years floats and themes have changed to reflect the pop culture of the era. In the 1950's there were floats such as Cinderella's Carriage as well as Davy Crockett. The 1960's brought us a Flintstones float and then there was the Pillsbury Dough Boy in the 1970's. The 1990's brought us Elmo from Sesame Street and 2002 saw the debut of the Captain Underpants balloon, based on the popular children's book series. The 1950's and 60's also saw religious themed floats such as the nativity but with corporate sponsorship taking over the parade the parade officials decided to be politically correct and do away with them.
One of the most famous incidents in the parade's history took place in 1990 when Chilly Willy, a giant penguin balloon, tore loose from its moorings and floated away before the parade began. He was found 25 miles away in Lake St. Clair. One can only imagine the looks on resident's faces as they saw a giant penguin floating over their neighborhood on that Thanksgiving.
In addition to the great photos of the parade, we get behinds the scenes glimpses at parade preparation as workers make the floats from concept drawings all the way through applying the paint. This was very interesting as it's something you seldom get to see.
Santa Claus has played an important role in the parade ever since the first when he made his arrival in a horse drawn carriage on loan from the Detroit Creamery Corp. Through the years we see the changing designs in Santa's sleigh and his reindeer. After enjoying the parade for so many years it's great now to be able to share the parade with my own children. This is truly a magnificent book for any Michigan resident who enjoys the parade, and as the song goes, "I Love a Parade!"