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Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day parade has the honour of being the oldest parade in the country, having survived since 1920 and through various iterations and sponsorships, from the most well known and original Gimbels Thanksgiving Day parade after the famous department store to the current, and if we're honest, somewhat less catchy, 6abc Dunkin Donuts Parade.
Still, if corporate sponsorship is required to keep the Philly parade running then I guess we just
need to accept it, it is increasingly a factor in keeping large scale public events running in these modern corporate times.
In common with Thanksgiving parades across the US this event is characterised by colourful floats and balloons featuring favourite film and TV characters as well as seasonal specialities such as The Grinch and Frosty the Snowman. There are also special guest appearances by local celebrities that are often only announced at the last minute.
The Philadelphia parade gets underway at 8.30am and is usually
finished around noon. The parade 1.4 mile has a very simple route:
- Start on 20th Street and JFK Boulevard
- 16th Street to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
- Down the Parkway until Logan Circle
- Around the south side of Logan Circle, then back on the Parkway to Eakins Oval
- South side of Eakins Oval
- Finish at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The best viewing spots are generally anywhere along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, while the largest crowds tend to gather at the Museum of Art and Logan Circle. As always with these events, getting there early is genrally the most important factor in securing a good vantage point.
There is an excellent map of the full parade route and best viewing spots here:
Parade route map
The parade is broadcast live on local TV channel WPVI each year
and also syndicated out to channels across the country so finding
coverage on the television shouldn't be a problem wherever you are.
For online viewing, there is a live stream provided by parade
co-sponsors 6abc via their website, you can watch it live online
Thanksgiving parade live stream
There is also the option of checking out some of the local webcam views for a more local flavour of the day's events, there are several located in key locations around Philadelphia, including some convenient traffic cam spots right on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway:
Hotel accommodation is at a premium over Thanksgiving so getting your reservation made early is a good idea. Decent choices on or very close to the parade route itself include The Sheraton, The Windsor, Le Meridien and Embassy Suites.
You can search and check availability for local hotels here.
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