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Mad scramble as clock ticks down to Thanksgiving parade

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

There are two things Michiganians look forward to every Thanksgiving — being stuffed to capacity with turkey with all of the trimmings, and the holiday parade downtown.

America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van in its 89th year and countless volunteers are expected to be scrambling around Wednesday to ensure the floats are in top condition and all logistics are in place.

Morris Grissom of Southfield volunteered to be a float driver 10 years ago and decided to make it a part of his Thanksgiving Day tradition.

“I guess you can say it worked out,” said Grissom, a Ford Motor Company retiree. “I enjoy what I do. It’s a good feeling to know that I am a part of something that is meaningful to our city.”

Before the start of the parade, the 33rd annual Strategic Staffing Solutions Turkey Trot brings runners from all over the country for the nation’s largest run on Thanksgiving. Participants can participate in a 5K or 10K race along Woodward and through downtown.

Michigan native, actor and comedian Tim Allen will serve as this year’s parade Grand Marshal.

It kicks off at Woodward and Kirby with a live performance from the cast of the Tony award-winning musical Jersey Boys. It ends with Santa’s arrival on Congress Street ushering in the holiday season.

The theme is “So Happy Together” and five new floats will debut including Art Van Furniture’s “Keeping the Magic Alive,” Henry Ford Health System’s “100 Years of Innovation Workshop,” Lear Corp.’s “Connecting the Spirit of Detroit to the World,” and the Skillman Foundation’s “Family Time,” which was designed by Ayress Goss, an eighth grader from Ludington Magnet Honors School in Detroit.

Ranked by U.S. News & World Report Travel as the second largest parade in the country, behind Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York, thousands of people are expected to line Woodward to see floats, bands, clowns and other performers.

Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company said the parade’s grassroots attitude makes America’s Thanksgiving Parade what it is today.

“Every costume and every float is tailored and designed right here in Michigan,” Micheals said. “You can see the passion and the spirit as people line the streets of Woodward. It’s very special.”

Security is expected to be in full force during the parade because of the recent terrorist attack in Paris and a number of increased terrorist threats around the world.

Finley: Give Mother Goose a wide berth at parade

“We have been working with the Detroit Police Department throughout the entire year to make sure everyone is safe and secure,” Michaels said. “They play a huge a role in making sure things run smoothly and we expect that they will.”

Grissom says volunteering for the parade is a way to give back to the community.

“When it all boils down, this parade is about the children. To hear the cheers and feel the energy of the crowd, this is what some people look forward to all holiday season.” he said. “Detroit is a great city and what better way to show everyone the beauty of our city than during America’s Thanksgiving Parade.”

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If you go

America’s Thanksgiving Parade Presented by Art Van

Location: Along Woodward between Kirby and Congress

Time: 8:30 a.m.

Street closures:

■Woodward from West Grand Boulevard to Warren will be closed from 5 p.m. Wednesday through 2 p.m. Thursday.

■Woodward from Warren to Jefferson will be shut down beginning at 2 a.m. Thursday until the conclusion of the parade.


Ford Underground Garage

30 East Jefferson

5 a.m.-7 p.m. $10

Joe Louis Arena

900 West Jefferson

4:30 a.m.-1 p.m. $10

Millennium Garage

423 West Congress

24 hours $10