Detroit Thanksgiving Parade 2023: route, parking and weather
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Get ready for big heads, bands and jolly St. Nick himself.
The parade tradition continues in Detroit on Nov. 23, with the 97th Annual America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. This event brings together community members to celebrate the holiday with a celebration in downtown Detroit. Here’s what you need to know before this year’s show.
The parade extends three miles of Woodward Avenue from Kirby Street to Congress Street. Starting at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, the show will last about an hour and a half. The parade will include three new floats this year, from Corewell Health, Skillman Foundation and Barton Malow. The organizers are looking to continually expand the show, with seven additional floats in 2024.
“It’s a complete culmination of so many things that come together in the parade, but most importantly it’s these floats,” said Tony Michaels, CEO of Parade, the nonprofit that runs the parade.
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Attendees can park in paid buildings and spaces along the route. Organizers will announce road closures and additional parking details as the event approaches.
The event, hosted by Parade, also features major sponsors. The show will be presented by Gardner White this year through 2031. Additional sponsors include Ford. About 1,500 volunteers also contributed to preparing for the show.
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Several bands from high schools across metro Detroit will play in the show:
- Adams High School (Rochester)
- Allen Park High School
- Chippewa Valley High School (Clinton Township)
- Dakota High School (Macomb Township)
- Detroit Public Schools Community District, All-City Marching Band
- Fraser High School
- Gibraltar Carlson High School
- Romulus High School
- St. John’s High School (St. John’s)
- Warren Mott High School
- Woodhaven High School
A long-time staple of the show, the Big Head Corps features large papier-mache heads in the show. The heads represent various human, cartoon and animal characters, including some local celebrities such as Aretha Franklin. This year’s parade will include a new addition with Big Head of Pistons point guard Isaiah Thomas.
Inspired by the Italian Carnival tradition, parade participants pay $250 to wear big capes in the Thanksgiving Parade. In its 16th year, Big Heads Corps continues to promote events and activities across Metro Detroit in support of its mission.
Detroit is set to see clear and cool conditions Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in White Lake, providing dry conditions for the show. Attendees should prepare to pack their bags, as Detroit expects highs in the upper 40s on Thursday.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the parade’s troupe of clowns, community members who pay $1,000 to participate in the parade as clowns and distribute beads to children. Participants start the morning at the YMCA for breakfast before dressing in clown costumes and applying makeup.
The senior guards in this year’s parade will be former Detroit Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown and radio journalist Howell Perkins.
“We look at people both nationally and locally — we always like to have a local touch. This year we’re all local — people who have amazing jobs but are also involved in helping others and being part of the community,” Michaels said.