Chicago’s 83rd McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade Kicks Off Windy City’s Holiday Season

If New York City has the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to celebrate turkey day and herald the start of the holiday festivities, Chicago has the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade. A holiday tradition that stretches back 83 years, the Parade will fill Windy City’s State Street with fun and grandeur once again on November 24, 2016, from 8:00 AM CST.

So, if you’re visiting family and friends in Chicago or simply planning to go on an out-of-town holiday on Thanksgiving, don’t miss the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade.

What to expect with the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade 2016

What’s in store for this year’s McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade? Just like in previous years, the Parade will be led by a Grand Marshal, a position previously held by personalities such as actor David Arquette and singer-songwriter Dee Snider. This year, comedian and Chicago-resident Matt Walsh, one of the stars of HBO’s award-winning comedy “Veep,” will take on the Grand Marshal role.

Other celebrities expected to take part in the Parade are: current Miss Illinois Jaryn Franklin, the Harlem Globetrotters, Shameless star Emma Kinney, and Lethal Weapon TV series cast member Dante Brown. The Parade will also feature staged presentations by the Black Ensemble Theater, the Chicago Korean Dance Company, America’s Got Talent discovery Laura Bretan, among others. Also participating in the Parade are high school marching bands, dance troupes, and equestrian teams from Chicago and all over the country.

Of course, the Parade won’t be complete without its famous floats and balloons. Floats from Chicago’s own WGN Television and Chicago Zoological Society will be showcased in the parade, along with floats from the city’s various cultural societies like the Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago, the Huaxing Arts Troupe of Chicago, and La Casa de la Cultura Guatemalteca en Chicago. Teddy Turkey, the Parade’s official mascot, will take part as well.

The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade 2016 route

The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade television broadcast starts at 8:00 AM, but the actual procession will begin at 8:30 AM. The Parade will be held on the one-mile Downtown stretch of State Street, the Parade’s traditional venue. Starting point will be at Congress Street, and the Parade will proceed northward to Randolph Street.

The Parade is estimated to take at least two hours to complete its course. The locals will have their favorite viewing locations for the Parade along State Street. But if you want to see the Parade floats and units come into formation, the best place to watch would be anywhere between Congress and Harrison Streets, just before the Parade’s starting point. If you’re more interested in the balloons being set up, you should go to the corner of State and Van Buren Streets. The TV crews will be positioned between Washington and Randolph Streets near the parade terminus.

Tips for making the most of the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade 2016

The show will go on for the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade no matter what the weather conditions would be on November 24. Thus, here are a few tips that will help you and your family enjoy the Parade to the fullest:

  1. Come early, especially if you think the weather will be nice on Thanksgiving morning. The more pleasant the weather is on Thanksgiving morning, the more people will turn out to watch the Parade.
  2. Dress for the weather. Chicago’s weather can be changeable on late November, with temperature averages ranging from 29F to 42F. So dress for warmth and comfort. Also, take into consideration the fact that you’ll be standing and walking around for at least three hours, so wear sensible shoes.
  3. Keep an eye on your kids. If you’re watching the Parade with children in tow, pay attention to where they are at any moment and keep them in check. Your kids can easily get lost in the crowd during the Parade.
  4. Reserve your Thanksgiving table ahead of time if you’re dining out. Restaurants within the vicinity of State Street are sure to be packed after the Parade. If you book your table a couple of weeks ahead, you won’t have to endure being hungry while waiting for a table to open, especially if you have kids with you.
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111124-N-CD297-019 CHICAGO (Nov. 24, 2011) Lt. Patrick Sweeten, band director of the U.S. Navy Band Great Lakes, leads the marching band up State Street during the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade celebrated its 77th year and has been an annual tradition for Chicago residents and the nation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/Released)


Anna is a wandering writer. If she isn't wandering, she's working on other blogs. And if she's not doing that, either she's reading or she's busy with a crafting project.