Your complete guide to the 2017 America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit

Iconic parade steps off at Woodward and Kirby, adjacent to the DIA



Celebrating its 91st year, America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van is produced by The Parade Company and recognized as one of the best Thanksgiving parades in the country by U.S. News & World Report Travel.


The parade is broadcast in more than 190 cities across the country and is second in size only to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. 


You can watch coverage of the parade on WDIV - Local 4 starting at 6 a.m.


The iconic parade steps off at Woodward and Kirby, adjacent to the Detroit Institute of Arts in Midtown, on Thursday, November 23 and ends at Congress just south of Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit.  The historic parade will pass by some of Detroit’s most notable landmarks including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Orchestra Hall, Comerica Park, the Fox Theatre, the new Little Caesar’s Arena and Campus Martius Park as it marches over three miles along Woodward Avenue.


Grand Marshals

This year’s parade will be led by Grand Marshals, Grammy-nominated musician and songwriter Big Sean and beloved former WDIV – Local 4 news anchor Carmen Harlan. Both are native Detroiters.


Themed “Woodward!! Avenue of Dreams!” the Parade will be featured on WDIV-TV Local 4, including a one-hour national broadcast reaching more than 190 major cities across the country. News/Talk 760 WJR’s Paul W. Smith will host a live pre-parade show from 6 a.m.- 9:30 a.m. CBS Radio will provide live parade coverage hosted by 104.3 WOMC’s Bobby Mitchell and Stacey DuFord (Mornings WOMC) from 10 a.m. - noon. For more information, visit theparade.org.


Parade Celebrities

Parade goers will enjoy an up-close look at award-winning musicians, performers, stars and more:

  • Frankie Ballard – American country rocker, singer-songwriter and guitarist from Battle Creek, Michigan. He’s had three Billboard #1 Country Radio singles, including “Young and Crazy” and “Sunshine and Whiskey.”
  • Karriem Riggins – Detroit native and Emmy Award-winning producer and drummer. As a musician and producer, Karriem has worked with artists including Diana Krall, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Common among others.
  • Trinitee Stokes – Star of Disney Channel’s “K.C. Undercover” as well as a singer and fashion designer.
  • Johnny Weir – Three-time U.S. champion, two-time Olympian and World medalist.  Weir was recently named one of NBC Sports Groups new lead figure skating broadcast team members for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
  • Liam Fennecken from the Tony-nominated Broadway production of “School of Rock” – The Broadway actor will kick-off the Parade with the song “When I Climb to the Top of Mount Rock.”
  • Yankee Air Museum Rosie the Riveter Tribute Corps – Two original riveters, Clara Doutly & Phyllis Roullier, both born and raised in Detroit, will join this group of women representing Rosie the Riveter, the World War II American poster icon.
  • Detroit’s Favorite Sports Mascots – Detroit’s favorite mascots including Hooper, Roary and PAWS will be riding on WOMC 104.3’s float, “Detroit Rocks.”
  • Minions – The loveable Despicable Me 3 Minions will join the parade this year. Despicable Me 3 will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD December 5.
  • Santa Claus – Santa’s grand arrival in his hand-crafted sleigh is at the end of America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van.


SIX MAGICAL NEW FLOATS Designed, created and built by the talented artists at The Parade Company, this year’s parade features six new and expanded floats, including:

  • Art Van Furniture: new float –“Dinosaurs on Parade”
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan: new float –“A Confident Life”
  • SVS Vision: new float – “Look Forward”
  • Faygo – “Birthday Cake” 
  • Lear Corporation: float addition – “Connecting the Spirit of Detroit to the World”
  • Skillman Foundation: new float – “The Snowing Mountains”



Number of floats – 24

Number of bands – 13

Number of balloons – 6

Number of Distinguished Clown Corps – 190

Number of papier-mâché Big Heads – 125

Number of beads – 300,000

Number of volunteers – more than 1,000


35th Annual Strategic Staffing Solutions Turkey TrotRunners from across the country gather each year for the annual Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3) Turkey Trot, the nation’s largest run on Thanksgiving morning featuring a 10k, 5k and one mile race. The iconic run on Woodward Avenue and throughout downtown Detroit attracts nearly 20,000 runners annually and is part of the celebration for America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van. Proceeds from the race benefit The Parade Company.


The event features the 10K S3 Turkey Trot, a 5k S3 Stuffing Strut and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Mashed Potato Mile along with combination race options. Thousands of runners and families dress in their favorite holiday costumes and receive an official race shirt and medal. Participants can enjoy a runner Food Court and DJ following the race.


Distinguished Clown Corps®  presented by UHY LLPFor 34 years, this group of more than 190 corporate and community leaders generously contribute to the non-profit Parade Company for the opportunity to trade their business suits for clown suits as they make their grand march down Woodward Avenue handing out beads in downtown Detroit. This year, Van Conway will serve as 2017 Distinguished Grand Jester. Conway, CEO of Van Conway & Partners, has been a Distinguished Clown for 18 years.


Big Head CorpsThe Big Head Corps offers young professionals the opportunity to get involved with The Parade Company, while offering fun programs and networking events. The Parade Company owns the world’s largest collection of papier-mâché heads and with the support of the Big Head Corps, 125 of them will march down Woodward Avenue on Thanksgiving morning.


Hob Nobble Gobble®  presented by Ford Motor Company – Guests enjoyed a star-studded black-tie evening at Ford Field in Detroit during the annual Hob Nobble Gobble®  presented by Ford Motor Company on Friday, November 17. This premier fundraising event celebrates 91 years of parade magic in Detroit to benefit The Parade Company. Headline entertainment for the evening was pop boy band Why Don’t We and 1980s rap star Rob Base.


The Parade Company Studio Tours – Take a magical, behind-the-scenes tour of The Parade Company and see the world’s largest collection of papier-mâché heads designed in Italy and a more modern take by the artists at the studio, and the larger-than-life floats in America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van. Tours are offered year-round and are available for groups of 10 or more by reservation. Details at theparade.org.


About The Parade Company

Founded in 1984, The Parade Company is a not-for-profit organization governed by the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation whose board of directors is comprised of key civic and corporate leaders in the greater Detroit region. The Parade Company is celebrating more than 90 years of Parade tradition in Detroit and is committed to funding, creating and executing the best family events in Michigan. The Parade Company staff, board of directors and thousands of parade volunteers work year-round to bring a wide variety of magnificent events to the City of Detroit and the region including the Ford Fireworks, Strategic Staffing Solutions Turkey Trot, and America's Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van. Follow The Parade Company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.