A Guide To Chicago's 2019 Thanksgiving Day Parade

Shannon Blum
November 27, 2019 - 7:38 am

Chicago's Thanksgiving Day Parade/Facebook

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Gobble, gobble - it's turkey time!

The 86th annual Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off Thursday, featuring an all-star lineup, including Grand Marshals, actors Chris Sullivan and Miguel Cervantes.

The free, family-friendly parade, led by Chris Sullivan and Miguel Cervantes, steps off at Ida B. Wells Parkway (formley Congress Parkway) and heads north down State Street conluding at Randolph Street. Guests can wave at the entertainers as the decorative floats drive by and gaze up as the skyline fills with giant helium balloons, led by Teddy the Turkey, the parade's official mascot. Topping it all off are incredible performances throughout the day within the main stage area between Washington and Randolph streets.

Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started back in the 1930's, when it was called  the Christmas Caravan. The parade was created to help lift the spirits of those suffering through the Great Depression. It continues to raise spirits and has transformed into the large spectacle it is today with equestrian performers, fire twirlers, dancers, giant helium balloons, decorative floats, and Teddy the Turkey. 

Think you are ready to join in on the holiday celebration? Here is a guide to Chicago's Thanksgiving Day Parade:

When:

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28. The parade steps off at 8 a.m. and goes until 11 a.m.

Where:

The parade steps off at Ida B. Wells Parkway, formerly Congress Parkway, and proceeds north down State Street to Randolph Street. 

Grand Marshal:

Both Grand Marshals boast Chicago connections. Chris Sullivan, perhaps best known for his Emmy Award-nominated role as Toby on NBC's This is Us, spent his early career in Chicago, including improv training and performances on Chicago stages. Miguel Cervantes is the actor hand-picked by Lin-Manuel Miranda to play the title role in Hamilton at Broadway In Chicago's CIBC Theatre, and he and his family currently call Chicago home.

Parade Highlights: 

Wake up early to catch more than 100 spectacles, a lively mix of everything from equestrian performers and fire twirlers to ballerinas and soul steppers. Look for a total of 20 marching bands, 13 festive floats, 16 staged theatrical performances, 11 equestrian groups, 18 cultural groups, inflatables, celebrity guests, and thousands of dedicated volunteers. Gaze up as the skyline fills with giant helium balloons, led by Teddy the Turkey, the parade’s official mascot. You will also see a cast of familiar and much-loved faces, from Garfield the Cat outfitted as a pilgrim to Bullwinkle J. Moose looking sharp in his suit. Other highlights include beloved mascot Teddy Turkey and Santa Claus himself, plus 90 diverse and captivating groups, including Teatro ZinZanni, Chicago's Marist High School Marching Band, Christopher Newport University Marching Band, Ray of Hope Riders, Harlem Globetrotters, Chicago Chinese Performing Arts Ensemble, Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago, Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, and many more will be marching along State Street on Thanksgiving.

Getting There:

If You Are Driving from the:
-North: Go south on Lake Shore Drive, exit at Congress Parkway.
-Northwest: Take I-90/94 to Jackson Boulevard.
-South: Go north on Lake Shore Drive, exit Columbus Drive, follow signs to Columbus Drive/Congress Parkway.
-Southwest: Take I-55 to Lake Shore Drive north then exit Columbus Drive, follow signs to Columbus Drive/Congress Parkway.

Consider taking public transportation:

With the parade taking place right in the Loop, you can pretty much take any L train to get close by. Get off at the Washington/Wabash or the Adams/Wabash for the Brown, Purple, Orange, Green, or Pink Lines. The Red Line’s Lake, Monroe, or Jackson station and the Blue Line’s Monroe and Jackson stop will get you close.

Metra trains drop riders at various locations around the city.

Parking:

The Millennium Park Garage and Grant Park North Garage are close to the parade, located on Michigan Avenue. You can pre-purchase parking for the lowest rate.

Millennium Park Garage
5 S Columbus Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601

Grant Park North Garage
25 N Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60602

InterPark parking garages also have multiple locations near the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade. You can also purchase parking in advance with one of their garages.

Street Closures:

Wednesday:

Starting at 6 a.m. - Right lane closed on Washington from Dearborn to State until 3 p.m. Thursday

Starting at 8 p.m. - State Street from Washington to Randolph will be closed until 3 p.m. Thursday

Consider Dearborn or Wabash

Thursday

Starting at 5 a.m. - Clark and Wabash both closed from the Ida B. Wells to Roosevelt to set up for parade

Starting at 5 a.m. - State Street closed from Roosevelt to Wacker until 1 p.m. for the parade

The east/west streets intersecting State from Roosevelt to Wacker will also be closed.