Teddies to Tweety, Parade Balloons Soar Again in Windy City's Thanksgiving Bash

Teddies to Tweety, Parade Balloons Soar Again in Windy City's Thanksgiving BashSource: Chicago Thanksgiving Parade
Richard M. Sullivan
Published on November 23, 2023

The Big Windy’s beloved tradition to usher in the festivities is here, and it’s bigger and bolder than ever! Chicago’s sidewalks were bursting with eager faces and festive cheer as the 89th annual Thanksgiving Day parade hit the Loop. After a years-long absence due to tight wallets and helium shortages, iconic sky-high balloons have rejoined the line-up, and the crowd couldn't be more thrilled, with the Chicago Sun-Times reporting that people swarmed State Street, from Ida B. Wells Drive till Randolph Street, to snag a view.

Celebrating their 10-year togetherness, Kathy Wells and Thomas English waited near the parade’s inception point, with English, the man confiding to the Sun-Times that they were most looking forward to the giant balloons. High above the treetops, the likes of Teddy the Turkey and Kermit the Frog soared once again, much to the delight of nostalgic revelers and wide-eyed kiddos alike. Plus, the Tasmanian daredevil himself, the Tasmanian Devil, and the ever-mischeivous Tweety Bird magnified the lineup according to WGN-TV.

Dan Mulka, executive director of the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade Foundation dished out to the Sun-Times the skinny on the parade’s inflatable hiatus—a combo of helium scarcity and budget blues. But the hardships didn't quash the spirit, and like a phoenix, the balloons have risen to glide once more above the city's architectural majesty. The parade was packed with more than just floating wonders; live performances and marching bands strolled the route, providing a rhythmic heartbeat to the festivities.

Chicagoans and out-of-towners alike basked in the parade’s vibrant offer. According to a WGN-TV disclosure, newbie to the festivities Jonathan Beverly, after his son secured a gig as a hotel honcho, found Chicago unexpectedly welcoming. "It’s very vibrant, surprisingly welcome," Beverly, 59, told the station. Meanwhile, Maria M., her hubby and their two tots made the trip from Hoffman Estates, with one of them verbalizing the cool factor of their proximity to Chi-town's parade splendor. Jacqueline S., trekked all the way from Kalamazoo, Michigan, eyeing the twinkling joy to be reflected in her three-year-old’s eyes upon beholding the parade's delights.

The Thanksgiving procession, originally dubbed the Christmas Caravan back in ’34, was conjured to lift Depression-era spirits and wallets, according to the parade's official lore. Fast forward nearly a century, and it’s gravitated into a heartwarming slice of Americana, what the Sun-Times labels as a “cherished holiday tradition for Americans across the country” in press releases. This year's roster, per WGN-TV, included star-spangled appearances by Reyna Roberts, Tayler Holder, and the word-weaving wizardry of Chicago's very own Poet Laureate. young, and the colorful twirls of the Chicago Korean Dance Company.