Thanksgiving parade kicks off Chicago's holiday season
November 22, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Thousands of Chicago-area residents lined State Street for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, taking advantage of Thursday's mild temperatures.
The 79th year of the parade not only featured some of the area's most talented high school marching bands and other entertainment, but also the Tom and Jerry cartoon balloon inflatables for the first time.
"Five-thousand performers, probably about 300 horses, about 12 helium balloons, 24 marching bands, 17 floats," said Phil Purevich, parade executive producer.
Warmer weather brought out the crowds for the parade, which started during the Great Depression in an effort to lift the public's spirits and bring the community together.
"This is a fabulous way to start the holidays. It makes us think of all we're thankful for. It's wonderful," said Mike O'Donnell, parade goer.
"It's pretty good, everyone is really pumped," said Airi Wright, performer.
While many who came were left awed by the sights and sounds, the highlight was the parade's very special guest, Santa Claus.
Organizers say the parade serves as a kick off to the holiday season.
"It just gets people in the mood. They come out here, they celebrate Thanksgiving and everyone is ready for those great sales on Friday," said Purevich.
local, evelyn holmes
- Freezing rain, snow spreads across NW suburbs
- Boy, 11, killed after carjacker crashes into SUV
- Video: ABC 7 Chicago Weather App
- ABC7 Weather Forecast
- Off-duty sheriff's officer dies in Bellwood shooting
- Flossmoor boy, 15, charged with murdering older brother
- Albany Park youth orchestra broadens students' horizons
- 400 tuba players perform at Palmer House Hilton
- Families of murdered children gather at St. Sabina
- Holiday posada offers health insurance help in Pilsen
- Funeral held for teacher killed in Indiana roadside crash
- Bruce Rauner wins Cook County GOP endorsement
- hAPPy Holidays from ABC7 Chicago
- abcnews: 4 Arrested in Deadly NJ Mall Carjacking