Thanksgiving parade draws 1 million to downtown Detroit
Detroit — Bob and Samatha Blue got on the road and drove through the night, stopping only for a few hours of sleep at a rest stop. The father-daughter team made it to downtown Detroit from their home in Wisconsin on Thursday morning to catch the annual Thanksgiving parade and then go to the Lions game.
“I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was a little boy,” said Bob Blue, a Flint native now living outside of Green Bay. “I try and raise my kids right.”
The Blues were among hundreds of thousands of people who descended on downtown Detroit on Thursday for the city’s cherished Thanksgiving traditions: running a race, watching the parade and going to a football game.
Mild temperatures helped swell turnouts. More than 1 million people gathered along Woodward to watch America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, making it possibly the largest ever in its 89 years, said Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company that sponsors the event.
“Detroiters turned out in the biggest way to enjoy this moment,” said Michaels. “It was a great celebration, with people coming together and really, really supporting this city and the great things that are happening.”
As the day began, some dressed their turkey before departing their homes while others slipped into a costume, like Allison Raub. She, along with family members and friends, donned turkey, sous chef, pilgrim and Indian getups and joined some 20,000 runners at the Turkey Trot, one of the largest Thanksgiving Day runs in the country.
Others along the 10k and 5k route dressed as superheroes, Santa Claus, elves, sumo wrestlers and sharks.
“It’s something fun to do together on Thanksgiving before we celebrate with family and friends,” said Raub, a Northville resident.
A few hours later, parade spectators crowded along a 3-mile stretch of Woodward from Midtown toward the riverfront to see the procession of 25 floats that was led by grand marshal Tim Allen, a TV star and Metro Detroit native.
Tonette Harris and Michael Goree hoisted their toddlers, Kayton, 3, and Tyler, 1, atop their shoulders so the kids could see the floats. It was first time that the Inkster couple took their kids to the parade, now in its 89th year.
“They’re loving it,” said Harris. “It’s something we used to do as kids so it’s fun to bring out kids here too.”
Jackie Mitchell and Tianna Taylor ran the Turkey Trot for the first time, dressed in “Gobble ‘Til Ya Wobble” pilgrim hats and singing songs along the way. The mother-daughter team also stayed for the parade.
“It’s our tradition,” said Mitchell, a Redford resident. “We’ve been coming since she was a little girl. It’s a great way to start the holiday season. It’s gets you in the spirit.”
Meanwhile, many were attending the Detroit Lions game at Ford Field where the Lions (3-7) were taking on the Philadelphia Eagles (4-6).
By noon, the crowds thinned along Woodward and many were heading home to start their meals and spend time with family. Troy resident Jessica Wolf packed up her husband, nephew and two daughters, including her six-month-old.
“It’s nice to have traditions,” Wolf said.