In just five weeks, the Charlotte Thanksgiving Day Parade will step off Tryon Street uptown led by the King of Racing.
NASCAR star Richard Petty will be grand marshal for this year’s parade. He will be joined by local celebrities, 10 bands, balloons, floats, live performances and more.
A holiday staple since 1947, Charlotte’s Thanksgiving parade is billed as one of the oldest and the fourth-largest in the country. An estimated 100,000 spectators lined the streets last Thanksgiving, while another 1.5 million watched on television, parade organizers said.
Organizers hope this year’s parade may move Charlotte up a notch or two in the rankings. They’re combining tradition and technology to try to make the Queen City’s 69th Thanksgiving Day Parade the biggest and best yet.
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For example, the Tennessee State and UNC Charlotte marching bands will perform alongside “segwalloons,” patent-pending inflatable balloons wrapped around Segways.
Attendees can download a free “Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade” app to get the latest information, directions and a preview of the balloons and floats that will participate.
The parade is free, but more than 2,000 reserved seats at Trade and Tryon streets are available for $15 at www.novanthealththanksgivingdayparade.com.
For those who aren’t content to stand on the sidelines, it’s easy to be a part of the parade action, said Charlotte Center City Partners’ Moira Quinn.
“You don’t have to be a television personality or celebrity to participate,” Quinn said. “We need volunteers, and the cool thing is you can be in the parade and bring along your entire family.”
Volunteer opportunities include jobs, such as balloon handlers, drivers, costumed characters, parade marshals and attendee check-ins. More information is available at www.paradevolunteer.com. Volunteers are usually done by noon or 12:30 p.m.
The benefits of volunteering are two-fold, according to Quinn: “It’s more fun than anything. And you leave knowing that you’ve made someone’s day.”