86th Annual Chicago Thanksgiving Parade Attracts Thousands

Lisa Fielding
November 28, 2019 - 11:27 am
Chi Parade

(Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- New York isn't the only city that puts on a massive Thanksgiving Parade. In it's 86th year, the Chicago Thanksgiving parade stepped off State Street at Ida B. Wells Thursday morning and traveled north to Randolph.

 For many lined along State Street, getting front row at the parade has become a Thanksgiving tradition.

"We have our thanksgiving feast that we do every year for 15 years," said Denise Myers from Tinley Park. "We have a warming tray, we have hashbrown casserole, morning glory french toast, coffee and cranberry juice."

For Meyers, the parade is serious business each year.
For the Meyers family, the parade is serious business each year. (Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

For Meyers, the parade is serious business each year.

"I make the casseroles on Tuesday, I wake up on 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving and put them in the oven. My husband and I leave at 6 a.m. and set up and pick out our spot and the whole family joins us at 8 a.m."

Meyers sets up a table for the food, brings costumes and plays a little Peanuts' Christmas music.

"It was so much fun and people think we're crazy," she said. "We meet so many people along the parade route. People continue to come back each year and sit and eat with us.

Teddy the Turkey
Teddy Turkey is an icon of the annual Thanksgiving parade. (Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

For Heidi Stenberg of Barrington Hills, its her and her family's first time to the parade.

"We have made Thanksgiving for the last 18 years at home and we decided we wanted to see the parade in person this time," said Stenberg, who's thanking Mother Nature for cooperating this year. "It's beautiful. It's not cold, it's not rainy or snowy, it's actually fantastic."

Ninety groups including 20 marching bands, 13 floats, 16 staged theatrical performances, 11 equestrian groups, 18 cultural groups, inflatables, Teddy the Turkey and Santa Claus all made appearances.

"This is a bucket list for us," said Sheila Specht who made the trip from Braidwood with her husband.

"We have nine kids and they're all grown and we decided to come up and see the parade in person this year instead of on our television," said Randy Specht. "We usually go to one of our children's house; we'll go there later today."

"It's nice not to have to cook anymore," laughed Sheila Specht. "The floats, the whole atmosphere, the whole city. It's absolutely beautiful."

Parade 2019
(Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

Chi Parade
(Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

Parade 2019
(Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

Originally called the Christmas Caravan in the 1930s, the parade was created in 1934 to help lift the spirits of residents suffering through the Great Depression. Since then, it has developed into a full-scale spectacle that celebrates the holiday season. What once started as an attempt to boost Chicago’s economy has evolved into a cherished holiday tradition for Americans across the country.

This year's grand marshalls were Hamilton star Miguel Cervantes and Actor Chris Sullivan.