Charlotte’s Thanksgiving Parade Voted Among America’s Most Cherished Thanksgiving Traditions


Thanksgiving in the U.S. is a holiday rich with events, with each region bringing its own flavor to the festivities, creating a patchwork of traditions that are as diverse as the nation itself. In New York City, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade dazzles spectators with its colossal balloons and extravagant floats, capturing the hearts of both the young and old. In Rhode Island, the Newport Harbor Illuminated Boat Parade shines as a gleaming spectacle on water, where boats adorned with twinkling lights and decorations reflect the festive spirit. And down in Birmingham (AL), they celebrate by attending the Thanksgiving Day Classic football game, where families and friends gather for a rousing display of sportsmanship and community pride under the bright stadium lights.

But which are the most popular? Mixbook, a #1 rated photo book brand, ran a survey of 3,000 Americans to establish which iconic Thanksgiving celebration they would most like to experience in 2023. Whether it’s the charm of a hometown parade, the adrenaline rush of a friendly race, or the thrill of a fiercely contested football match, these Thanksgiving events were ranked from 1-80.

The top 5 were as follows:

1. 6abc Dunkin’ Parade, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

The 6abc Dunkin’ Parade in Philadelphia was voted as the Thanksgiving event people would most like to experience in 2023. It is one of the nation’s oldest parades, and has been an integral part of Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving celebrations since 1920. Every year, spectators line the streets of Philadelphia to witness a spectacular display of vibrant floats, giant balloons, talented marching bands, and dynamic performance groups. What makes it particularly special is its unique blend of local Philadelphian culture with broader American traditions. The parade culminates with the much-anticipated appearance of Santa Claus, heralding the start of the festive season. Experiencing the 6abc Dunkin’ Parade allows families to be part of a longstanding tradition, feel the camaraderie of the community, and immerse themselves in the joyous spirit of Thanksgiving in the City of Brotherly Love.

2. Detroit’s America’s Thanksgiving Parade, Michigan.

In second place came Detroit’s America’s Thanksgiving Parade. Originating in 1924, it is one of the country’s longest-running and most celebrated parades. What makes this Detroit tradition truly unique is its rich variation of vibrant floats, larger-than-life balloons, and sensational marching bands, all showcasing the distinct culture and spirit of the Motor City. Visitors are particularly drawn to the parade’s signature papier-mâché heads, known as the Big Heads, which have become emblematic of the event. Furthermore, the parade fosters a sense of community, drawing families from all over Michigan to line up along Woodward Avenue, celebrating gratitude and togetherness amidst the backdrop of Detroit’s historic architecture.

3. Ameren’s Thanks-for-Giving Parade, Missouri.

The Ameren’s Thanks-for-Giving Parade in Missouri emerged as the 3rd most sought after Thanksgiving tradition to experience. Held in St. Louis, this spectacular event showcases a stunning array of vibrant floats, talented marching bands, and larger-than-life balloons that traverse the heart of the city. But what truly sets it apart is its heartwarming community spirit. The parade not only serves as a visual treat but also acts as a platform for local charities and organizations to gain visibility. It intertwines entertainment with social responsibility, making it a meaningful celebration.

4. Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade, Maryland.

In fourth place, came the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade, held in Silver Spring. It offers a distinctive blend of both large-scale attractions and local charm. Unique features like the larger than life inflatable turkeys and penguins, glittering floats, marching bands, dancing groups, and Santa and his elves, making it a highlight for families. The inclusion of local schools, organizations, and community groups in the parade ensures that it truly reflects the heart and soul of Montgomery County. The event culminates in the eagerly anticipated arrival of Santa Claus, heralding the beginning of the festive season.

5. Black Friday shopping at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

And perhaps surprisingly, rounding up the top five, came the Black Friday shopping at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. It is a quintessential American Thanksgiving experience that, according to the survey, many Americans aspire to partake in. Not only is the Mall of America the largest shopping center in the U.S., but it also encapsulates an experience that goes beyond mere shopping. It’s a spectacle of grandeur and festive ambiance, with extravagant decorations and special holiday-themed events. On Black Friday, they hand out Mystery Scratch-Off Cards to win prizes such as gift cards and ride passes. The immense crowds, dazzling sales, and the electric energy of anticipation for the holiday season make Black Friday at this iconic mall a memory that many wish to create.

North Carolina had two Thanksgiving traditions among the most popular in the country:

12. Novant Health Thanksgiving Eve Parade, Charlotte.

The Novant Health Thanksgiving Eve Parade in Charlotte is a treasured event that has, over the years, become an intrinsic part of the city’s holiday celebrations. Dating back to the 1940s, it stands as one of the oldest parades in the United States, beckoning thousands of visitors and locals alike to Uptown Charlotte. Spectators are treated to a grand display of elaborately designed floats, high-flying balloons, live performances, and bands that beautifully blend the traditional with the contemporary. Not merely a parade, it is a festive celebration of community spirit, creativity, and togetherness. The event signifies the kickoff to the holiday season for many, setting the mood for Thanksgiving.

59. North Carolina Holiday Flotilla.

The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla is a spectacular maritime celebration that illuminates the coastal town of Wrightsville Beach with the magic of the holiday season. The centerpiece of the flotilla is a dazzling parade of beautifully decorated boats that glide gracefully along the Intracoastal Waterway, creating a radiant spectacle of lights that reflects off the water’s surface. Boat owners go all out with their imaginative and festive decorations, turning their vessels into floating works of art. The sight of these illuminated boats, often synchronized to holiday music, is truly mesmerizing. The event often begins with a tree lighting ceremony, followed by a festive fireworks display that lights up the night sky. Spectators gather along the waterfront, on piers, and in cozy beachfront restaurants to witness this breathtaking spectacle.

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