A Guide To Chicago's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018

November 21, 2018 - 12:21 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The 85th annual Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off Thursday led by a famous Looney Tunes character. 

The parade led by Bugs Bunny steps off at 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 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:


Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 22. The parade steps off at 8 a.m. and goes until 11 a.m.


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

Grand Marshal:

Bugs Bunny is the Grand Marshal for this year's parade as part of a tie-in with the inaugural Six Flags Holiday in the Park, which runs from Friday, Nov. 23, to Monday, Dec. 31, at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

Fun Fact: This isn't the first time a fictional character has held this honor. Ronald McDonald was named grand marshal for last year's parade.


Chicago's Thanksgiving Day Parade picked up its first sponsor in 1984 - McDonald's. Over the years, a variety of companies have lent their names to the event, including Target, Marshall Field's, Brach's Confections.

This year outdoor retailer Uncle Dan's, has been named the 2018 sponsor.

Parade Highlights: 

More than 5,000 walking participants — 20 marching bands, 16 theatrical productions, 11 equestrian troupes, more than a dozen floats and various cultural acts, inflatables and celebrities — will take part in the event. Members from the Chicago Blackhawks and the Harlem Globetrotters, as well as performers from Ballet Folklorico Sones Mexicanos, the Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Medieval Times and the cast of "WaistWatchers The Musical!" will be marching along State Street on Thanksgiving.

The annual event wouldn't be complete without an appearance by Teddy the Turkey, the mascot who marched in his first Thanksgiving parade in 2009 and who even has his own Twitter and Facebook accounts. 

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.


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:

State Street will be closed from Wacker Drive to Roosevelt Road, beginning at 5 a.m. The east/west streets intersecting State from Roosevelt to Wacker will also be closed.