The Vanguard Goes Behind the Scenes at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

See What Happens When You Volunteer to Be a Balloon Handler in the Parade

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The Vanguard Goes Behind the Scenes at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

Christopher Tremoglie, Editor

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The Thanksgiving Holiday is synonymous with delicious culinary treats such as turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and an assortment of pies. However, before the gluttony kicks in,

many people have a morning ritual such as football games – whether playing in

a ‘Turkey Bowl’ or attending one of the traditional high school games throughout

the area- or attending the Thanksgiving Day Parade. While many recognize New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as the zenith during this holiday, Philadelphia has their own tradition that is older than any Thanksgiving Parade in the country.

The 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade, took place Thursday morning

from 8am until noon down the Ben Franklin Parkway. The crowd enjoyed a wonderful day with albeit a little cold. That was wiped out by the warm feelings of the kicking

off of the holiday season in Philadelphia. The parade was hosted on television by

Rick Williams and CecilyTynan while Adam Joseph, Karen Rogers and Alicia Vitarelli were reporting on the holiday cheer along the parade route.


No Thanksgiving parade is without celebrities and Philadelphia’s was no exception. At the parade were: Melinda Doolittle, Ruben Studdard and Justin Guarini of American Idol fame. Also at the parade were former contestants from “The Voice” Josh Gallagher and Billy Gilman. Other musical acts included Ty Herndon, Kwame and Well Strung. Additionally, there were casts from various theatrical productions, including Disney’s “Aladdin,” “Annie,” “The Color Purple,” “Les Miserables” and “Waitress.”


The Vanguard went behind the scenes this year at the parade and participated as a balloon handler. Anyone can participate if they would like. All one has to do is contact the parade through their Facebook page and provide them your contact information.


After that, you will be emailed a time and place for “training.” At training, you will get the experience of marching with a balloon float. Then the day of the parade is where the fun begins – if you are an early riser. And by early riser, I mean, the wee hours of the morning. You are required to be at a hotel down town at 4am. You can wait as long as 5 hours from the time you get there until the time you begin your march.


That is the true joy of volunteering in the parade. As you march down the Ben Franklin Parkway, throngs of people filled with holiday cheer are lined up along the parade route. As you pass by with your float, you were greeted with applause and the constant clamoring to “spiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn” your float. Spinning your balloon involves running around in a circle, holding on to your balloon, which gives the appearance of the enormous parade float spinning around in the air. It is an endearing part of the parade. You feel as if the whole city is cheering you on. You also feel like you let the whole city down if you do not spin in front of them. It can be bittersweet.


The parade itself featured many wonderful, family-fun, entertaining acts full of floats, bands and performances. Disney Princesses left the little ladies watching the parade in awe as they were on

a fantastic Disney inspired float. 4 year old Zatiti, was ecstatic as she bounced up and down and waved vigorously to Disney Princess Rapunzel. “This is her first Thanksigiving Day parade and she couldn’t be happier,” said Zatiti’s aunt.


The parade itself is known for having something for everyone. It featured 17 balloons, 18 floats, 20 marching bands from across

the country, the Eagles cheerleaders, 28 performances and of course, Santa.


“This parade is one of Philadelphia’s most beloved holiday traditions bringing families together for 98 years.” says 6abc President and General Manager, Bernie Prazenica. “Thanks

to our title sponsor, Dunkin Donuts, our major corporate sponsors, and the 6abc family, we will continue to march on Thanksgiving Day for many more years. Onward to 100!”

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