CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thousands are expected to descend on downtown Chicago Thursday morning to watch the 86th annual Thanksgiving Day parade.
The parade's executive producer, Phil Purevich, stopped by ABC7 Tuesday to share some details about the event.
The parade was created in 1934 as a Christmas parade to help lift the spirits of residents suffering through the Great Depression and to bring shoppers back to State Street, Purevich said.
The free, family-friendly event will step off at 8 a.m. Thursday from State Street and Ida B. Wells Drive and feature Grand Marshals, and actors, Chris Sullivan and Miguel Cervantes and hundreds of talented performers, according to a news release from parade organizers.
It will then proceed north on State Street to Randolph Street, ending at 11 a.m.
Parade highlights include mascot Teddy Turkey and Santa Claus himself, plus 90 diverse groups, including Teatro ZinZanni, Chicago's Marist High School Marching Band, Christopher Newport University Marching Band, Ray of Hope Riders, Harlem Globetrotters, Chicago Chinese Performing Arts Ensemble, Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago, Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, and more, the release said.
Attendees can also look forward to Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintsone and Yogi Bear balloons, Purevich said.
Visit ChicagoThanksgivingParade.com for more information.
Chicago to celebrate Turkey Day with 86th annual Thanksgiving Day parade