Big Heads. Big Floats. Big Hearts. Big Fun! It’s time for America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van Furniture.
Art Van Furniture is once again presenting sponsor of the parade. We’ve been an active supporter of the parade since our founder, Art Van Elslander, wrote an historic check a quarter of a century ago to save the parade from the verge of collapse.
Whether you’ve watched from along the route or on television at home, you know the parade is one of Michigan’s most treasured traditions – in fact, it’s the second oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the United States. In its 88th year, America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van Furniture has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report Travel as one of the best Thanksgiving parades in the country, and is broadcast to over 140 cities nationwide each year.
Making its way down Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, the parade is a feast for the senses. This year’s theme is “Walking on Sunshine,” and you’ll see new floats as well as some old favorites. One thing that makes America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van Furniture unique is its collection of papier-mâché heads, which were introduced to the lineup after J.L. Hudson’s display director Charles Wendel saw similar heads in Europe. He had the parade’s collection made in Viareggio, Italy, and it’s the world’s largest.
Be sure to look for Old Mother Goose, which was the first float in the 1924 Parade pulled down Woodward Avenue by a horse. Today, she still makes an appearance, although she has been updated to be “self-propelled.”
And get ready for some laughs courtesy of the Distinguished Clown Corp, which has been a part of the parade for more than 30 years. The group is made up of 150 corporate and community leaders who trade their business suits for red noses and clown shoes, marching down Woodward and passing out 300,000 beads to parade-goers.
This year’s Co-Grand Marshalls are American Ice Dancing Gold Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the first Americans to bring home an Olympic Ice Dancing gold medal at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. Davis and White are both University of Michigan students and longtime friends, raised in metro Detroit. Together they are the longest-lasting dance team in the United States with honors that include gold and silver Olympic medals, Olympic team bronze, and two-time World Champions. Most recently, Davis and White competed on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and Davis and her pro partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy were named Season 18 champions.
Be sure to watch for Van Elslander family members as well as Art Van Furniture associates who will proudly participate by walking the Woodward Avenue parade route and waving to spectators.
“This is our way of thanking all of the Michigan families who have supported Art Van Furniture for nearly six decades,” said our founder, Art Van Elslander. “We hope that when people line up on Woodward Avenue this year, the entire country will see how much we all believe in the parade, the city of Detroit, and in creating lasting memories for children and families.”