Thanksgiving Day parades are as American as… pumpkin pie!
Besides being a great excuse for some family sit-down time amid all that turkey-stuffing and pie baking, the nation's Thanksgiving Day parades serve as an official kickoff to the holiday season, with most including a finale float that features Santa Claus.
From small, hometown parades to Macy's epic Turkey day trot, here are some facts to share with your kids about Thanksgiving Day parades.
* Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day parade is the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the nation, dating all the way back to1920.
* The Philadelphia Thanksgiving parade has undergone several name changes over its 91 year history. It started out as the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade before it was later sponsored by local TV station WPVI as well as Boscovs and IKEA department stores. Today it is known as the 6abc Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade.
* New York's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debuted in 1924. According to Time, the now iconic parade was created by Macy's employees who were eager to celebrate Christmas and draw attention to their department store.
* The first Macy's parade featured marching bands, fairy tale-themed floats and live animals from the Central Park Zoo.
* In 1927, silent film cartoon character Felix the Cat became the first giant-size balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, replacing the parade's previously used live animals. The giant balloon was released into the air after the parade, where it eventually popped.
* Detroit's Thanksgiving parade also debuted in 1924. In 1964, it featured a big star of the day when canine TV star Lassie was the parade's Grand Marshall.
* Chicago's annual parade has been going strong since 1934, first starting out as the State Street Christmas Caravan and at one time featuring 100 Santas along the parade route. Since its debut, the parade's sponsorship has changed often, with companies such as Brach's Confections and Marshall Field's taking title sponsorship. The parade is currently known as the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade.
* In 2008, Chicago's parade joined the ranks of New York's and Philadelphia's iconic parades, when it was broadcast live on national television for three hours.
* In St. Louis, the Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a Thanksgiving Day tradition for 27 years. The parade is broadcast on the TV morning show, "Great Day St. Louis," which won an Emmy for its coverage of the 2010 parade.
* In 1947, the Carolinas' Carrousel Parade debuted as the "Charlotte Christmas Festival," founded by local businessmen-- including a man named John Belk-- who were hoping to attract business to downtown Charlotte. In 1950, the parade's name was changed to Carolinas' Carrousel, with Belk department store taking over sponsorship in 2010.
* The Carolina's Carrousel has had some interesting moments. In 1950, the parade was led by popular cowboy star, Hopalong Cassidy, and in 1957, Santa's float broke down-- leaving poor Kris Kringle in the dust!
Victoria Leigh Miller is a freelance writer. She has been writing about parenting topics since 2001.
- Thanksgiving Day parade