Interesting Facts About the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

WorldStrides high school marching bands from across the country will once again participate in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago this year. This iconic Chicago holiday event has a rich history and continues to be quite the production. Here are some interesting facts about the parade:

  • The parade began in 1934 as the Christmas Caravan. It was created to help lift the spirits of Chicago residents during the Great Depression.
  • In 1969, the Chicago Tribune reported that more than 1.5 million people lined the parade route.
  • In 2007, WGN America began broadcasting the parade, and it was available in 72 million homes at the time. This established the parade as one of three parades in the country to be televised live, nationally. This year, the parade will be available in approximately 80 million homes.
  • In its 84-year history, the parade has had 10 different official names.
  • The Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the nation’s largest and most popular Thanksgiving Day parades. The most-attended parade is New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with close to 3.5 million in attendance.
  • The parade features giant balloons, floats, equestrian units, marching bands, staged performances, and many honored guest appearances.
  • Parade banners will be hung on approximately 156 light poles in the heart of Chicago on State Street.
  • More than 1,500 people will volunteer at the parade. Volunteer roles include banner carriers, tech crew, street painters, and even a “poo crew” that works to pick up after the horses along the parade route.
  • The aforementioned “poo crew” will include over 70 members!
  • Participants from across the United States, and internationally from Switzerland, Mexico, Australia, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Canada and more will travel to Chicago to be a part of the parade this year.
McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Marching Band Program
McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Marching Band Program

Can’t make the parade in person? Catch it from the comfort of your own home! It will be broadcast nationally on WGN America and live streamed at Join us in cheering on our ten participating WorldStrides OnStage marching bands!