Philadelphia is home to the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the nation, celebrating a century of holiday festivities this year.
That’s no jive, turkey — the annual 6ABC Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade turns 100 on Thursday, and it’s bringing tons of floats, balloons (weather allowing), special performers, and fun with it. But with the festivities come the usual holiday headaches, like road closures, parking restrictions, and transit detours.
We’ve rounded up everything you need to know for this anniversary edition of our annual holiday parade. Happy Thanksgiving, Philadelphia.
This year’s 6ABC Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade starts at 8:30 a.m. Per usual, the 1.4-mile route begins at 20th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard and heads east toward 16th Street, where it will make a left turn to get to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The route follows the Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the parade will conclude around noon. The parade is free to watch.
Thursday will be cold and blustery. Temperatures will be in the 40s, with winds that could reach more than 45 mph during the parade, making it feel quite a bit colder — as well as more challenging to guide balloons along the route, if they can be brought out at all. But compared with last year, when Thanksgiving brought bone-chilling temperatures in the high 20s with winds as high as 25 mph, that doesn’t seem so bad.
Road closures began Tuesday night, when Eakins Oval was closed for rehearsals between 6:30 and 11 p.m. Closures continued throughout Wednesday and will continue Thursday, the city’s Office of Special Events indicated. All roads are to be reopened by 3 p.m. Thursday.
The closures are as follows:
9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Eakins Oval.
6:30 p.m. – Eakins Oval until conclusion of parade.
7 p.m. – Inbound lanes of John F. Kennedy Boulevard from 20th Street to Schuylkill Avenue until conclusion of parade.
9 p.m. – Outbound lanes of JFK from 20th to Schuylkill Avenue until conclusion of parade.
2 a.m. – Market Street from 19th Street to 20th Street until conclusion of parade.
6 a.m. – Market from 20th to 22nd until conclusion of parade.
7:30 a.m. – Entire parade route.
Police will detour drivers away from the route in several areas. Cross streets will be allowed to run when possible, pending progress of the parade.
Additionally, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, traffic on the southbound side of Kelly Drive will be detoured from Fountain Green Drive to Oxford Drive and 33rd Street.
Prohibited parking areas on and around the parade route go into effect Wednesday, parade organizers said online. Areas affected include:
JFK Blvd. from 19th to 30th Streets.
20th Street from Market Street to the Parkway
Arch Street between 18th and 22nd Streets.
Race Street between 16th and 17th Streets.
17th Street from Vine Street to Race.
Eastbound lane of Vine from 15th Street to 17th.
Market from 19th to 21st Streets from 4 to 11 a.m. Thursday.
Vehicles parked in no-parking areas will be relocated, the city said in a statement. Metered parking elsewhere in Philadelphia is free on Thanksgiving.
SEPTA buses, trains, and trolleys will operate on a Sunday schedule. SEPTA riders can follow real-time updates via the agency’s System Status website.
Temporary detours for a number of bus routes will begin on Wednesday at 6 p.m., and continue through 3 a.m. Thursday. Buses undergoing detours during that time include Routes 31, 33, 38, 44, 49, 124, and 125, and the MFO.
Thursday will bring further bus detours from 3 a.m. to 2 p.m. Buses affected during that time include Routes 2, 7, 17, 27, 31, 32, 33, 38, 43, 44, 48, 49, 124, and 125, and the MFO.
More detailed information is available via the SEPTA website.
Parade floats and performers
Guests this year include celebrities such as former Queer Eye star Carson Kressley, actor Billy Flanigan, and ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee. Local favorites like Flyers mascot Gritty, Eagles cheerleaders, and the Geator with the Heater, Jerry Blavat, will also appear. And yes, Santa Claus will make an appearance.
Float and balloon-wise, anticipate an enormous birthday cake in honor of the parade’s 100th anniversary, plus characters like Shrek, the Grinch, Felix the Cat, Thomas the Tank Engine, and others.
Performers this year include musicians Macy Gray, Aloe Blacc, and Il Divo, as well as the casts of Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, among others. Nearly two dozen marching bands will keep things moving.
Where to watch
The main viewing area is known as the Parade Zone, and is in Eakins Oval. The Parade Zone will feature an open-air festival that includes live performances, food trucks, face-painting, balloon artists, animals from the Philadelphia Zoo, and free coffee samples at the Dunkin’ Refuel Zone.
Otherwise, attendees can take in the parade from any spot along the route, including Logan Square, the Art Museum, and the Franklin Institute.
How to watch from Home
The parade will air live from 8:30 a.m. until noon on 6ABC, and can be streamed via the station’s website.