Imagine this: You wake up Thanksgiving morning and walk to your window to take in the seasonal view. You press your hand on the glass and shiver at the sharp chill of temps expected to sink to 16°F. All of a sudden, you see a gargantuan eye in the sky, pupil darting back and forth, unable to focus its manic gaze on the crowds below. Tufts of matted orange fuzz follow, along with a distinct odor of trash and an aura that combines goofiness and grotesquerie…
Alas, it’s not to be. There won’t be a massive Gritty float at the 6ABC/Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade this year — understandable, since he only arrived in this world a couple of months ago.
The Flyers mascot is slated to show up in person, however. From 8:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Nov. 22, you can catch Gritty in the flesh (in the fur?) along with local and national performers who’ll be tap-dancing, marching to the beat, singing show tunes and waving pom-poms, all while looking good as forecasted 12 mph winds threaten to knock the chorus lines over.
This year’s spectacle begins at 20th and JFK, heads down the boulevard to 16th Street and then back up the Ben Franklin Parkway to Eakins Oval. Parking is free If you don’t want to brave the cold (or deal with the road closures) you can catch it all on TV.
Among the reasons you might choose to keep your channel on this one instead of flipping to the Macy’s show in NYC? It came first. Launched in 1920, Philly’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the oldest in the nation.
Here’s a rundown of the top performers, special guests and floats — new and old, wonderful and weird — to look for when you watch.
Floats and balloons
There’s going to be a Where’s Waldo float to commemorate the elusive ’80s puzzle book protagonist, but (in true Waldo fashion), we could not find a photo of this float. Here’s a photo of a dog dressed up like Waldo instead.
Daniel Tiger is a pure, wholesome and delightfully brilliant show, with a cast of vivid cartoon characters that teach emotional intelligence and human respect. It’s the new Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for the youngest generation, and its protagonist truly deserves this spotlight.
So this is apparently Pizzazz the Snowman. Though he appears to be a veteran of the Philly parade, we’re having trouble finding any mention of him elsewhere. What’s his backstory? Hopefully it’s more than just: “We couldn’t afford the licensing rights to Frosty the Snowman so we made up a new one instead.”
Mortifying. Kids are obsessed with dinosaurs these days, but could someone please put this poorly-developed prehistoric monster back in the archaeological dig from whence it came?
2 Candy Canes
This balloon float provides an opportunity for existential reflection. Just two candy canes with no other candy canes in sight, living in the moment.
- Celebrate Thanksgiving
- Bountiful Harvest
- Under the Sea
- Thing 1 and Thing 2
- Animal Train
- Dr. Seuss: 1 Fish 2 Fish
- Hot Dogs & Cool Cats
- Tiffany Gift Box
- The Sound of Music
- Season of Giving
- Fairy Tale
- Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Rollin’ on the Riverboat
- Olivia the Ballerina
- Christmas Morning
- Brainy Smurf
- A Pirate’s Life
- Santa’s Surprise
- Santa’s Holiday Express
Rhe musical theater lineup for the parade is straight-up phenomenal. Parade goers and live streamers will be able to witness theatrics and songs from Walnut Street Theatre’s Matilda cast, Rodger’s + Hammerstein’s Cinderella and The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Shows featured in the Kimmel Center’s 2018/2019 Broadway Philadelphia Season will also be making a cameo at the parade. These include Anastasia, Miss Saigon and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
Plus, Mandy Gonzalez, who plays the lead role of Angelica Schuyler Church in Hamilton on Broadway, will also be marching along. There’s no word as to whether or not she’ll put on a Hamilton-related performance, but we’re crossing our fingers (since for most of us, this is as close to attending a performance as we’ll get).
Reality competition stars
It remains unclear as to who still watches shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent or The Voice, but runner-ups and finalists from several of them will be making appearances on Thursday. These are Justin Guarini, Catie Turner, Michael Woodard, Craig Wayne Boyd and Christina Wells.
It’s all about couples hailing from the Happiest Place on Earth this year. OGs Mickey and Minnie Mouse are joined by Tiana and Naveen from The Princess and The Frog, Jasmin and Prince Ali from Aladdin and Rapunzel and Flynn from Tangled.
What we’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving is that characters from Frozen have been left out of this year’s repertoire. It appears that we’ve finally… let it go.
Professionally pretty people
Not only will we be graced with the presence of Eagles Cheerleaders and Philadelphia Soulmates, but we’ll also be able to see Miss America Nia Franklin, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen London Hibbs, Miss New Jersey Jaime Gialloreto, Miss Delaware Joanna Wicks, Miss Pennsylvania Kayla Repasky, Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen Alaina Marie Murphy, Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen Sky Knox, Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen Cecilia Petrush and Miss Philadelphia Aimee Turner.
There’s plenty of jabs to be taken at beauty pageants, but no matter how outdated some parts may seem, they do highlight the contributions these women have made to their local communities, including things like founding nonprofits (before winning the tiara) and promoting social justice and equity platforms (after winning). You can learn more about them here.
Reps from a galaxy not so far away
The Garrison Carida® is a group of community-minded volunteers serving the Greater Philadelphia Area who spearhead public service initiatives, charity events, promotional appearances and public gatherings to benefit the community — all while decked out in Star Wars cosplay gear.
- Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus
- Tameka Ferebee
- Treena Ferebee
- Freda Payne
- Doug E. Fresh
- Linda Eder
- Jerry Blavat
- Anthony Kearns
- The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
- Ginger Zee of “Good Morning America”
All the other deets
A complete list + bios of featured performers, marching bands, tap schools, dancers, special units and performers and choirs can be accessed at the official 6ABC/Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade site, as well as a map of the parade.
A few more details:
- The show is hosted by 6ABC’s Rick Williams, Cecily Tynan, Adam Joseph, Karen Rogers and Alicia Vitarelli.
- The Parade Zone at Eakins Oval will have free coffee samples, a photo booth, face painters, balloon artists, a dance floor, an art wall and American Heritage Credit Union’s Money Machine (where you can step inside and grab as much cash as you can). Bonus? You have a chance to win an Eagles jersey signed by Carson Wentz.
- If you watch the parade on Channel 6 starting at 8:30 a.m., you can look for keywords to text for a couple of grand prizes, including Dunkin’ Coffee for one year, 10 Eagles vs. Houston Texans tickets and a Dunkin’ tailgate for the Dec. 23 game, a trip for six to Hawk’s Cay Resort in Duck, Key Florida.
- You can win a $50 Dunkin’ gift card if you share pics on your socials with the hashtag #6ABCTDP.
- Attendance and metered street parking are free.
- Information on temporary no parking zones and road closures can be found here.