79th McDonald's Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

November 22, 2012 (PRESS RELEASE)

This year's McDonald's® Thanksgiving Parade will take place LIVE on State Street between Congress Parkway and Randolph Street in downtown Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (CST). For those not on the street for the cherished annual parade, the festivities will be broadcast live on WGN-9 Chicago and WGN America.

Chicago native and WWE® Superstar CM Punk® returns this year to spend Thanksgiving morning as the Official Grand Marshal. The Straightedge Superstar has taken his thrill for living the clean life outside of the ring. He has tossed the first pitch at the games of his beloved Chicago Cubs and was the Grand Marshal of the 2008 McDonald's® Thanksgiving Parade. CM Punk's hard work has been rewarded as he is living out his dream as one of the longest reigning WWE Champions of all time. Punk can be seen every week on USA Network's Monday Night Raw at 7c.

Another honored guest that will ride down the parade route on Thanksgiving morning is Chicago native, Jaslene Gonzalez. Gonzalez utilized her experience as the winner of America's Next Top Model, Cycle 8, to develop and refine her craft. She has evolved into one of fashion's most sought-after faces, scoring a multitude of modeling campaigns, ranging from Cover Girl to Garnier Cosmetics, to covers of Ocean Drive, Seventeen, and Latina magazines.

Alongside these celebrities, this year's lineup includes over 100 diverse and remarkable group performances. The high-energy Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents Dragons and the always popular Joffrey Ballet are just two of the many amazing groups this year.

Each year, the McDonald's® Thanksgiving Parade features top marching bands from all over the country, including Lowndes High School (Georgia), Citrus High School (Florida) and Boardman High School (Ohio). This also includes Chicagoland's best high school bands, featuring performances from Waukegan High School, Proviso East High School, Marist High School and many others.

And what's a parade without horses? Marching the route this year, among many others, will be the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, Ray of Hope Riders and Bertrand's Miniature Horses.

The fantastic giant balloons are back again this year! The twelve balloons include fan favorites such as Mr. Potato Head, Woody Woodpecker and Curious George. Also, the Tom and Jerry balloons will be premiering at this year's parade. Be sure to watch out for these characters presented by Case New Holland as they head down the parade route.

Originally called the Christmas Caravan in the 1930's, the Parade was created to help lift the spirits of residents suffering through 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 such as the Nuremburg Christkind.

WGN-9 Chicago will air the Parade live and in high definition from 8 to 11 a.m. (CST) on Thursday, November 22. 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® in New York City, New York and The Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA). CLTV will rebroadcast the parade from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (CST)

Supporting sponsors of the McDonald's® Thanksgiving Parade includes McDonald's® Owner Operators of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, Case New Holland, and MB Financial Bank.

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