Holidays in Philly

Photos from Philly’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with cute balloons, homey floats, local celebs, and nothing pretentious

if you’re looking for something that captures the holiday’s spirit, Philadelphia’s event delivers.

Alma of the PBS Kids series 'Alma's Way'

Alma of the PBS Kids series 'Alma's Way'

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn

The idea for a parade on Thanksgiving originated in Philadelphia back in 1920, thanks to Gimbels department store. In the intervening century, a city to the north has stolen the thunder, presenting a glittery Turkey Day spectacle broadcast around the nation.

But if you’re looking for something that captures the day’s spirit, Philly’s parade is better.

Thanksgiving has roots in colonialism, and remains inextricably connected with capitalism (that first parade was all marketing, and the holiday is now considered the kickoff to shopping season) but the holiday is being reclaimed. Many Americans use it as a chance to reflect, give back, and give thanks for family, friends, and being alive.

The Philadelphia parade conveys that gratefulness for the everyday existence we all share.

Its floats are kind of frumpy. Its celebrities are local: this year they included Gritty, Jeopardy champ Ryan Long, and — in a kind of a coup, because she’s pretty famous now — Quinta Brunson of “Abbott Elementary.” Yet the volunteers pulling the balloons, the highschoolers marching in the bands, the spectators along the sidelines, every person involved full of smiles and cheer.

On a perfect sunny day, the city gave itself an opportunity to be thankful.

Scroll down to view photos from the homey, colorful, and very Philly 6ABC Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A high school trombone player flashes a smile

A high school trombone player flashes a smile

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
Smurfette makes her way down the Parkway

Smurfette makes her way down the Parkway

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
A dad and kid pose with a Philadelphia Fire Department truck

A dad and kid pose with a Philadelphia Fire Department truck

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
A family poses with Eagles cheerleaders

A family poses with Eagles cheerleaders

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
Mr. Potato Head is a crowd fave

Mr. Potato Head is a crowd fave

Emily Cohen for WHYY
The Eagles drumline marched in the parade

The Eagles drumline marched in the parade

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
thanksgivingparade2022-07
Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
A float called 'Rollin on the River' is sponsored by Pennie, the state health insurance marketplace

A float called 'Rollin on the River' is sponsored by Pennie, the state health insurance marketplace

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
Spectators along the route brought chairs, or just plopped down on blankets

Spectators along the route brought chairs, or just plopped down on blankets

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
The parade drew a big crowd on a flawless sunny day

The parade drew a big crowd on a flawless sunny day

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn
Scouts from around the Philadelphia area collect food donations along the parade route

Scouts from around the Philadelphia area collect food donations along the parade route

Emily Cohen for WHYY
Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Emily Cohen for WHYY
The Huddleston brought a blow up couch and chairs

The Huddleston brought a blow up couch and chairs

Emily Cohen for WHYY
Marchers holding the Christmas tree balloon spin in a circle

Marchers holding the Christmas tree balloon spin in a circle

Emily Cohen for WHYY
Pups Ava and Lilly enjoy the parade

Pups Ava and Lilly enjoy the parade

Emily Cohen for WHYY
Soft pretzels sold along the parade route

Soft pretzels sold along the parade route

Emily Cohen for WHYY
The Pride of Salem Marching Band out of Salem Virginia

The Pride of Salem Marching Band out of Salem Virginia

Emily Cohen for WHYY
'Abbot Elementary' star Sheryl Lee Ralph waves at fans

'Abbot Elementary' star Sheryl Lee Ralph waves at fans

Emily Cohen for WHYY
Decatur Central High School Marching Band and Guard from Indianapolis

Decatur Central High School Marching Band and Guard from Indianapolis

Emily Cohen for WHYY
Here comes Santa Claus, and Mrs. Claus, with reindeers prancing over a rooftop

Here comes Santa Claus, and Mrs. Claus, with reindeers prancing over a rooftop

Nanda Guntupalli for Billy Penn

Want some more? Explore other Holidays in Philly stories.

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Parades