77th McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade

November 25, 2010 (CHICAGO)

(PRESS RELEASE) Make the Mcdonald's Thanksgiving Parade a family tradition as the holiday comes to life on State Street Thursday.

Chicago native actress Jennifer Beals serve as parade grand marshal. Plus, new for 2010: Dance to the Sounds of the BritBeat Beatles Tribute Band, Swing to the Steps of the Legacy Dance Ensemble and March Along with the Silver Knights Baton Corps.

The public is invited to celebrate on the historic State Street amidst gigantic airborne balloons, stunning equestrian units, the nation's top marching bands, expertly-choreographed dance troupes and the best in varied cultural entertainment as the 77th McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade takes place LIVE on State Street in downtown Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25, from 8 to 11 a.m. (CST) For those not in Chicago - or stuck in the kitchen preparing the big meal - the festivities will be broadcast live for three hours on WGN 9 Chicago and WGN America TV stations.

Stepping off the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade will be a lively performance of "FUNundrum" presented by Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey. Honorary Grand Marshal, Ronald McDonald, will lead the parade, and will be joined by other crowd favorites including Chicago's favorite fun-loving bird and parade mascot, Teddy Turkey, Santa Claus, Miss Chicago and Miss Illinois 2010.

Popular film and television actress and Chicago native Jennifer Beals will serve as Grand Marshal in the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade. Beals began her acting career after graduating from Francis W. Parker School when she auditioned for "Flashdance," resulting in the role which earned her a Golden Globe nomination and an NAACP Image Award for "Best Actress." Since then she has worked on other projects such as the acclaimed Showtime series, "The L Word," and recently starred alongside Denzel Washington in the 2010 sci-fi action film, "Book of Eli." Beals is currently in Chicago filming a new police drama picked up by FOX called "The Chicago Code."

Expected to top over 100 parade units, new additions to this year's lineup include a wide range of electrifying live performances ranging from the splendor of The Joffrey Ballet's America's No. 1 "Nutcracker" to the head-turning JASC Tsukasa Taiko Japanese Drummers, who will set the beat of the parade route. Truly offering something for everyone, other entertainers include the talented Chicago Swordplay Guild members who will battle it out while the experts at Fred Astaire Dance Studio gracefully glide through the parade route.

Each year, the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade includes the top marching bands from all over the country, such as Siloam Springs High School (Arkansas), Bay High School (Florida), Frank W. Ballou Senior High School (Washington, D.C.) and Houston County High School (Georgia), not to mention some of Chicagoland's best high school bands, including Proviso East High School and Marist High School. And what's a parade without horses? Marching the route this year will be the Holiday Horses from Herder Farms, the Mid-America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team and the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.

Giant helium balloons will light up the sky on Thanksgiving morning with characters such as Curious George, Madeline, Fred Flintstone and Yogi Bear. Burr Ridge-based Case New Holland, will be generously presenting the balloon attractions at this year's parade, for the 4th year.

"McDonald's is exited to support and participate in this wonderful holiday event, which has become such an important tradition for families throughout the Chicago area," said Ron Lofton, president of the McDonald's Owners of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (MOCNI). "Your local McDonald's operators continue to be committed to the people and communities we serve, and our involvement in the wonderful Thanksgiving parade is just one of the many ways we are able to do this."

Originally called the Christmas Caravan in the 1930's, the parade was created to help lift the spirits of residents suffering though the Great Depression. Since then it has developed into a full-scale spectacle that celebrates the holiday season. What once started out as an attempt to boost Chicago's economy has evolved into a cherished holiday tradition for Chicagoans and Americans alike. The parade includes performers and special guests representing every part of the country as well as some international visitors. Whether it's catching the Jesse White Tumblers in action or checking out the sky-high balloons, the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade has something for everyone. Always a free event, a limited number of VIP Experience packages are available for purchase, and include amenities such as VIP Seats, a light continental breakfast and much more. More information on the VIP Experience is available by visiting www.chicagofestivals.org.

WGN 9 Chicago will air the parade live and in high definition from 8 to 11 a.m. (CST) on Thursday, Nov. 25. WGN America will also broadcast the parade nationally, establishing it as one of only three parades in the country to be covered live, in its entirety, on a national television broadcast (along with Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and The Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasedena, CA).

The McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade takes place rain or shine, Thursday, Nov. 25, from 8-11 a.m., on State Street, in Chicago. For more information about the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade, please contact Chicago Festival Association at (312) 239-0457 or log on to www.chicagofestivals.org.

The McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade
Thursday, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
State Street in downtown Chicago

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.