Strike up the Parade!

“Seventy-six trombones led the big parade

With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.”

The Music Man

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people line Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit to see the famous America’s Thanksgiving Parade® up close, while millions more watch at home. This year the theme of the 84th annual Parade is “Celebrate the Spirit.” Yet, back in 1990, this beloved tradition almost ceased to exist.

Started in 1924 by the J.L. Hudson Company department store, the Parade is tied with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City as the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States. Over the years, it changed hands and names, and started suffering setbacks:

  • 1980 – Hudson ended its sponsorship
  • 1988 – National telecast was dropped, causing many corporate sponsors to leave
  • 1990 – After 66 years of bringing joy to countless families, the whole event was in danger of being permanently cancelled

 That’s when Art Van Elslander received a call.

With the simple act of writing a $200,000 check, Mr. Van operationally brought the Parade from the brink of death, and in the process inspired other businesses to get on board. The Parade went on as planned, and the following year Mr. Van announced that we would match the contributions of other business up to $100,000. From there, things really started to take off and the Parade once again gained momentum to continue the cherished tradition of bringing families together on Thanksgiving morning.

We are proud to say that 2010 marks Art Van Furniture’s 21st year of sponsorship with the America’s Thanksgiving Parade. In the wee hours of November 25th, Art Van employees from all over the metro Detroit area will descend upon Detroit to take their place alongside the “Knights of the Charitable Round Table” float and start assisting in blowing up the crowd favorite 48′ Flicker the Dragon balloon. And as a special treat this year, Deidre Hall, best know for her role as Dr. Marlena Evans on NBC’s daytime drama Days of our Lives, will be riding in the Parade with Mr. Van.

Charles Dickens once said, “Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door.” And as Mr. Van and Art Van Furniture have proven over the years, there’s plenty of room at our table.

To see more images from Parade’s Past, check out the Parade album on our facebook page:

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