Philadelphia is home to the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the nation, which celebrates its 102nd edition this year.
Officially known as the 6ABC Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade, Philly’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition is back on Thursday, marking its return after last year’s COVID-19-induced hiatus. And it’s bringing tons of floats, special performers, and fun with it. But with the festivities come the usual holiday headaches, like road closures, parking restrictions, and transit detours.
Here, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know for this year’s annual holiday parade. Happy Thanksgiving, Philadelphia.
This year’s 6ABC Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade starts at 8:30 a.m. and winds up around noon.
The route starts at 20th and John F. Kennedy Boulevard and heads east toward 16th Street, where it turns left and heads north to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. From there, the parade follows the Parkway west to Eakins Oval and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it concludes. The parade is free to watch.
Thanksgiving Day will be mostly sunny with highs in the 50s during the day, followed by a mostly cloudy night with a chance of rain later in the evening, according to the National Weather Service. All in all, that’s a pretty good forecast for the day’s festivities — especially compared to 2018, when Thanksgiving Day brought temps in the high 20s and winds as strong as 25 mph.
Thanksgiving parade road closures
Road closures will start on Tuesday night, when Eakins Oval closes for parade rehearsals from 6:30-11 p.m. Various closures will continue on Wednesday and Thursday, a spokesperson for the city’s Office of Special Events said. Roads will reopen on a rolling basis as they are cleaned and serviced, and all road closures are scheduled to be lifted by 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Scheduled road closures for the parade are as follows:
6:30-11 p.m. — Eakins Oval between Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. — Eakins Oval between Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
6:30 p.m. — Eakins Oval closes until the end of the parade.
7 p.m. — Inbound lanes of John F. Kennedy Boulevard from 20th Street to Schuylkill Avenue close until the end of the parade.
9 p.m. — Outbound lanes of John F. Kennedy Boulevard from 20th Street. to Schuylkill Avenue close until the end of the parade.
2 a.m. — Market Street from 19th to 20th Streets closes until the end of the parade.
6 a.m. — Market Street from 19th to 22nd Streets closes until the end of the parade.
7:30 a.m. — The entire parade route closes until the end of the parade.
» READ MORE: Where to volunteer in Philadelphia on Thanksgiving.
There will be prohibited parking areas on and around the parade route starting on Tuesday, and temporary no parking signs around areas scheduled for road closures, the Office of Special Events said. Cars parked in prohibited parking areas will be relocated.
Metered parking elsewhere in the city is free on Thanksgiving. Additionally, you can check the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s website for a list of parking garages and parking lots around the parade route.
» READ MORE: How to park for cheap or free in Philadelphia
SEPTA buses, trains, and trolleys will run on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving. You can follow real-time updates on the agency’s System Status website, via TransitView on the SEPTA app, or on Twitter at @SEPTA_Bus.
Temporary detours for several city bus routes begin on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and will last through 3 a.m. on Thursday to allow for parade setup. Routes affected during that time include:
31, 33, 38, 44, 49, 124, 125, and the MFO.
On Thanksgiving Day, detours will be effect from 3 a.m. to 2 p.m., for several additional bus routes. Routes undergoing detours on Thursday include:
2, 7, 17, 27, 31, 32, 33, 38, 43, 44, 48, 49, 124, 125, and the MFO
For more detailed information about route detours, check SEPTA’s Thanksgiving Day Parade & Holiday Service page online.
Parade floats and performers
Guests this year include celebrities such as former Queer Eye host (and Allentown native) Carson Kressley, actor Billy Flanigan, journalist (and Temple grad) Tamron Hall, and ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee. Additionally, you’ll also see appearances from local faves like Jerry Blavat and The Voice winner Cam Anthony, plus mascots Gritty, Swoop, and Franklin the Dog. And, yes, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there to signal the start of the holiday season.
As for floats and balloons, look out for classic characters like the Cat in the Hat, Pac-Man, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Abominable Snowman, Daniel Tiger, and others.
And this year’s musical performers include Kool & the Gang, Tag Team, Amy Grant, Taylor Dean, and more. More than a half-dozen marching bands will keep things moving down the Parkway.
Where to watch
If you’re looking to attend the parade, you can watch from anywhere along its route free of charge. Some favorite spots to watch include the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Eakins Oval, and Logan Circle.
If you are planning on going to the parade, be sure to observe the health and safety guidelines in place to help combat the pandemic.
City of Philadelphia regulations require that you wear a mask along the parade route, even if you’re vaccinated, except when actively eating or drinking.
Face coverings, 6ABC notes online, must fully cover your nose and mouth, and items like neck gaiters and bandannas are not considered acceptable face coverings.
Ticketed guests must also have valid proof of vaccination or show a negative COVID-19 test taken with 48 hours of the parade.
Plus, the station says, you should take your temperature and self-administer a “Health Screening Checklist” before heading out. The checklist includes questions like:
Do you have the following symptoms: Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breaking, fever or chills, muscle pain or body aches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea, or vomited?
Have you had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days and not done a self-quarantine?
Are you awaiting results of a COVID-19 test due to symptoms or possible exposure?
Is your temperature 100.4ºF or above?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, organizers advise you to stay home.
How to watch from home
And, for the first time ever, the parade will broadcast nationally via livestream on Hulu. 6ABC Action News favorites Rick Williams, Cecily Tynan, Adam Joseph, Karen Rogers, and Alicia Vitarelli will host.