Back after a hiatus, Charlotte’s Thanksgiving parade will ‘light up the night sky’

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The annual Novant Health Thanksgiving Parade will transform into a night event in uptown Charlotte on Nov. 24, with illuminated floats, inflatables and marching bands and other local, regional and national talent.

Traditionally held Thanksgiving Day, the 75th version will instead “light up the night sky” at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve, Charlotte Center City Partners said in a news release on Friday announcing the event.

After a year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will again welcome parade lovers along Tryon Street from Ninth Street to Stonewall Street. The 2020 version wasn’t a live event, but a broadcast of a compilation of past parades.

Parade spectators are “strongly encouraged” to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, and to practice social distancing where possible, organizers urged.

This year’s parade will feature 10 high school marching bands, four community marching bands, 28 specialty units, 13 floats, seven special performers and eight giant balloons.

Novant Health on Friday announced that the health care provider has extended its title sponsorship of the parade another five years.

“Gathering in person for the holidays is something so many of us have anticipated for over a year,” Jesse Cureton, Novant Health executive vice president and chief consumer officer, said in the release. “We ... look forward to kicking off a healthy holiday season.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said, in the interest of public safety, they could not reveal what security measures they would take following an SUV crashing through a Wisconsin parade over the weekend, killing at least five. CMPD, a spokesman said, “will commit appropriate staffing and resources to ensure the safety of all community members attending the event.”

Parade grand marshal

Dr. David Priest has been named grand marshal of the parade.

Priest is Novant Health senior vice president and chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer.

In the statement, Priest said he is “proud and humbled” to represent all front-line health care workers “who worked such long hours and put themselves in harm’s way to keep our community safe throughout this pandemic.”

Parade volunteers needed

Volunteers are needed as costumed cast members, parade marshals and helpers handling the giant balloons while walking in the parade. Register at

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