Marching Back Downtown

In its 80th incarnation, Detroit's Thanksgiving parade will again march through the heart of downtown, giving the crowd and the people walking in the parade a chance to trumpet the city's redevelopment progress.

For the past eight years, the parade had begun at Kirby on Woodward, north of the Detroit Institute of Arts and ended at Grand Circus Park. This Thursday, it will kick off at Mack Avenue and venture south until Congress.

The change will mean much of the parade will glide by more of Detroit's successes, including the Compuware headquarters, Merchants Row and Campus Martius Park. And the tight streets lined with grandstands will give the parade a different feel than up Woodward. "Instead of a street that is 80 feet wide, you are now on streets that are 40 feet wide," says Joan LeMahieu president of the Parade Company.

The annual event is run by the Parade Company, a nonprofit organization that puts on parade and the International Freedom Festival and Target Fireworks, but it also holds special events and tours in its facility. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people tour or visit the Parade Company’s facility off Mt. Elliott each year.

Model D got an early look at some of the floats and faces that tramp down Woodward every year. Check out Dave Krieger's photo essay.

Some other tidbits to guide your parade-going experience:

• The parade starts earlier this year, 9:20 a.m.
• It features a few new floats, including two designed by elementary school children. One is a dinosaur wearing a sweater with a volcano to boot designed by Detroiter Charlie Davison, and a colorful octopus designed by St. Clair Shores boy, Samuel Carroll. And, of course, there will be a cake float in honor of the parade's 80th birthday.
• Red Wing defenseman Nic Lidstrom is the parade grand marshal and this year the Parade Company is handing out 80,000 gifts to parade-goers. A few special gifts are good for things like an autographed Lidstrom jersey.

For a map and more parade info, click here.

Parade Company Photographs Copyright Dave Krieger

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