Amid the floats: Smiles and shivers at Parade Co. breakfast

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

Detroit — On a frigid Friday morning at the Parade Co. warehouse, Tony Michaels found the perfect spot to think warm thoughts.

Michaels, the parade's president and CEO, was standing beneath a heat vent alongside the Blue Cross Blue Shield float. All around him, some 800-plus movers and shakers were mingling and shivering at the 20th annual Parade Co. Pancake Breakfast.

"Everything keeps getting bigger and better," he said, no matter the chilly weather that infiltrated the cavernous headquarters on Mt. Elliott. "We have all these business and civic leaders coming together, and everybody's smiling."

Tara Tomcsik, president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, walks past Santa's Sleigh, sponsored by The Parade Company, at Friday's Pancake Breakfast in Detroit previewing the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Six or seven years ago, he said, maybe 250 or 300 pancake patrons would show up at the parade preview. "Today, we might hit 1,000" — a tribute to eternal childhood in the form of floats and flapjacks, and also a recognition that endless amounts of coffee help with both 6 a.m. gatherings and blustery days.

The largest attraction was the new Huntington Bank float, more than 100 feet long and hidden behind a curtain until its official unveiling.

Smaller, if not lesser, attractions included Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

Hackel, a marathoner, outlasted the other two. Michaels outlasted everyone, though of course he was only a few steps from his office.

"A long way to go. Three more weeks," he said.

Then the parade will go rolling down Woodward Avenue, and the next pancake breakfast will be only 49 weeks away.

Twitter: @nealrubin_dn