Detroit's (JL Hudsons) America's Thanksgiving Parade is an annual American parade held on Thanksgiving Day in downtown Detroit, Michigan. The tradition started in the city in 1924 by the J.L. Hudson Company department store.
It shares the title for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, New York and is four years younger than the 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The idea came from Hudson's display director Charles Wendel after the success of the Canadian Eaton's Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, Ontario.
In addition to the usual floats and bands, Wendel obtained large papier-mâché heads similar to those he saw during a recent trip to Europe. The heads are made in Viareggio, Italy, and remain a fixture of the parade to the present.
The parade was suspended in 1943 and 1944 due to material shortages caused by World War II, but Hudson's resumed the event in 1945 and continued sponsorship of the parade until 1979 when the costs became burdensome.
It turned the parade over to the Detroit Renaissance Foundation, who produced it for four years. In 1983, Detroit Renaissance transferred control of the parade to the newly created Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation. "America's Thanksgiving Parade" is a registered trademark of the foundation.
The parade features a variety of floats, marching bands and balloons, with the climax being the arrival of Santa Claus, who appears at the end to herald the arrival of the Christmas season.
Santa and Detroit Mayor Jerry Cavanagh
Unique to the parade is the Big Head Corps, featuring a large collection of papier-mâché heads, and the Distinguished Clown Corps, which features local corporate and community leaders dressed as clowns. The parade is made possible through the efforts of more than 4,500 volunteers.
Over the years well-known personalities were commentators for the Detroit parades, including John Amos, Ned Beatty, Kathy Garver, Captain Kangaroo host Bob Keeshan, Linda Lavin, Esther Rolle, and Andrew Stevens.
The parade was first broadcast in 1931 on radio station WWJ. In 1959, the parade came to television on local stations WWJ-TV and WXYZ-TV. The WXYZ program was hosted by ventriloquist and puppeteer Shari Lewis with her sock puppet Lamb Chop. The parade was carried nationally on the ABC broadcast network. READ MORE