Royal Oak Tribune
Thanksgiving parade to be televised production
Annual event presented by Gardner-White to be televisedonly production
There has never been a better time to watch America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by GardnerWhite from home than this year.
One reason being there is nowhere to stand and watch it.
“It’s a virtual product this year,” said Tony Michaels, president and CEO of the Parade Company of the event being aired on Nov. 26. “We’re doing this so people can wake up on Thanksgiving morning and still enjoy the parade together, safely.”
As producers, The Parade Company and others involved in presenting the annual event to the public met several months ago to discuss the best way to handle the situation considering the pandemic and it was decided then to develop a creative and thoughtful approach to continue the 94-year tradition during these unprecedented times.
“We have an extraordinary passion in bringing America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by GardnerWhite to our community and believe this is an opportunity to show the country how our remarkable city and people have come together to make this beloved tradition happen,” said Michaels, whose discussions included producers of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Our team has reviewed every aspect with the city of Detroit and the Detroit Police Department to ensure a safe environment. This is truly Detroit’s greatest tradition.”
Both parades, held annually on the same day and shown to viewers in Michigan and New York have historically drawn massive crowds to the streets of Detroit and Manhattan. Last year an estimated 3.5 million in-person spectators viewed the parades along routes but due to the need for social distancing that’s not possible.
Instead the parade has been designed to capture the imaginations of millions watching from home and will not have spectators in the compressed footprint. The exclusive television partner for the
annual event is WDIV-TV (Channel 4).
The theme of this year’s parade is, We Are One Together, in honor of frontline workers and heroes of the COVID19 crisis.
Despite the changes those who love watching the floats and marching bands, silly clowns and other pieces that make up America’s Thannksgiviing Parade will not be disappointed. The marching bands have been prerecorded but their performances are part of the show so parents can still point with pride to their youngsters entertaining viewers watching from home. Marching bands from Macomb County making a showing have yet to be announced.
There will also be four new floats being revealed this fall.
Among those being debuted is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM)’s “From Virtual to Reality...Here for it All,”
“Our float represents Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s commitment to healthy people, healthy communities, and healthy schools, from the virtual world to the neighborhood,” said Dan Loepp, president and CEO of BCBSM and chairman of the board of directors for the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation. “We are proud to be a part of this longstanding holiday tradition that celebrates Detroit and spotlights our incredible city.”
Each of the three sections of the new float highlights a different theme. The first showcases the many ways people can interact with BCBSM and their doctors virtually. Characters on the float move up and down like they are popping out of the iPads. The second section of the float features chil
dren and families playing sports with healthy fruits and vegetables. There is a six-foot pineapple that raises a basketball hoop complete with an orange slice backboard. The third section of the float features well-known streets from the eastside communities of Cornerstone, Morning Side and East English Village, which BCBSM is investing in and partnering with through the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative. The street signs reach 25feet up in the air.
“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a remarkable partner, and we are incredibly appreciative for their commitment and support of this great tradition,” Michaels said.
Also supporting the parade and making its inaugural years as presenting sponsor, previously held by Art Van Furniture, is Gardener-White.
“They’ve been unbelievable,” Michaels said. “They have a great new float too.”
As in previous years further details about the parade will be announced in the coming weeks including the winner of the Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest, which is almost traditional as the parade itself.
For 26 years, a contest
that grew out of a partnership between The Parade Company and the Skillman Foundation has inspired children to pick up a pencil and draw the kind of float they would like to see in America’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Soon, the winner will be announced and the float conjured by the imagination will come to life and nothing can change the thrill that brings to a winner and his or her family.
Another factor that will not change is the quality of the parade. America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner-White is recognized as the Best Holiday Parade by USA Today, two years running, 2018 and 2019.
The televised version of this year’s parade will include a one-hour syndicated national broadcast of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For those who might be used to rising early and heading downtown there will be a pre- show starting at 6 a.m. The parade will also be featured broadcasts on Paul W. Smith’s morning show WJR-AM (760) and Entercom’s WOMC- FM (104.3)