Holidays in Philly

What to watch for in Philly’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Justin Guarini is back. Obviously.

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 6.49.52 AM
Flickr via CGTB20111124071

The 6ABC/Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade, the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States, runs Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The marching begins at 20th and JFK, continuing to 16th Street before heading up the Parkway.

Here’s a rundown of the top performers, special guests and floats, new and old, to watch:

The new guests

Billy Gilman

Runner-up on “The Voice” in 2016 who actually had a top 40 hit in 2000.

Lara Spencer

As a graduate of Penn State, this “Good Morning America” host has Pennsylvania ties.

Ruben Studdard

He’s on the parade circuit every year, having recently performed in Detroit. And yes he somehow did beat Clay Aiken on “American Idol.”

The mainstays

CAPA students

These dancers have been at the Thanksgiving parade since 1988. They’ve performed “High School Musical” and “Dreamgirls” in the past.

Jerry Blavat

Philly’s prolific DJ/performer, the Geator With the Heater, never misses a public celebration in Philadelphia.

Justin Guarini

It may sound weird to call the runner-up to Kelly Clarkson — and co-star of “From Justin To Kelly” — a mainstay, but he’s Philadelphia’s. The proof is in the parade. Guarini, who grew up in Bucks County, has been participating in the Thanksgiving Day parade since at least 2008. This is him singing “Love Train.”

Julia Rae

She was Miss Philadelphia 2015, and this is her ninth parade.

Other performers

Beat Addikts United

Nearly 200 young people from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland who perform hip-hop dances.

Billy Flanigan

He’s been in Aquafresh commercials, “Finding Nemo The Musical” and “Kenan & Kel.”

Iron Man and Spiderman

They might be joined by others from the Marvel universe, too.

Khare Hawkins

A gospel singer who’s performed with Kirk Franklin.

Pennsylvania Ballet

For those who want a sneak peek of this year’s performance of The Nutcracker.

Davonda Simmons

You might’ve heard her backup vocals for Gloria Estefan, Vanessa Williams or Jermaine Jackson.

The character floats

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 6.51.27 AM
Flickr via Jon Seidman
  • Buddy The Dinosaur
  • Bugs Bunny
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog
  • Fraggle Rock
  • Penguins from “Madagascar 2”
  • Strawberry Shortcake
  • Thing 1 and Thing 2

The holiday floats

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 6.52.44 AM
Flickr via Jon Seidman
  • All Wrapped Up
  • Bountiful Harvest
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Morning
  • Fiddlesticks the Holiday Mouse
  • Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen
  • Season of Giving
  • Santa’s Holiday Express

Want some more? Explore other Holidays in Philly stories.

Thanks for reading another Billy Penn story

Find everything you need to know about Philly, every day — in clear, direct language, like a good friend might say.

No clickbait, no cliffhangers: the Billy Penn morning newsletter.

Thanks for supporting Billy Penn!

Test your local knowledge — join us for the next Philly Quizzo virtual event, or take the quiz online.

Lock in your support

Reader support powers our local pandemic reporting. A monthly membership helps lock it in.

Can we count on you as a Billy Penn sustainer?