Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company

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Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a clown? Or a swan sculptor?

How about Tom Selleck?

The Parade Company is in full swing this season, and rightly so. As the creative brain behind America’s Thanksgiving Parade, this nonprofit organization works tirelessly throughout the year to design and implement props, parties, and more for well-known companies and events—but the prep work that goes into the annual Thanksgiving parade is like no other. A full-time staff and volunteer group of around 1,500 people are responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly, from floats and balloons to costumes and the parade’s famous papier-mâché “big head” corps. Needless to say, November is incredibly busy for The Parade Company—but it’s also incredibly exciting.

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
Housed in an old, 200,000 square-foot Chrysler plant on Mt. Elliott in Detroit, The Parade Company warehouse is a wonderland-esque workshop that serves as the home base for float storage, costume design, painting, sculpting, repairs, and more. Inside, you’ll find Oz’s Emerald City, tributes to Motown, and fairy tale characters that look like they’ve leapt off of the pages of storybooks. While it’s surreal to see well-known parade creations up close, it’s also fascinating to watch artists and technicians turn sketches into three-dimensional masterpieces.

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
Welcome to the "Fabulous" World of Oz!

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
There has been a Mother Goose float in Detroit's Thanksgiving parade every year
since it began in 1924. The current version (pictured above) was designed in 1998.

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
Above: Motown and The Spirit of Detroit find their way onto parade floats; Tom Selleck and friends make their way into America's Thanksgiving Parade "Big Head Corps," where large, papier-mâché replicas of celebrities, cartoons, and other figures are worn by parade marchers on Thanksgiving day. 

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
This job is not for the faint (or impatient) of heart: hand-peeling old paint off of parade balloons.

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
One of my favorite floats! Designed for the annual Detroit Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival in the world!

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
America's Thanksgiving Parade is presented by Art Van, so it is only fitting that you will find a few masterpieces from the furniture company during the tour!

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company
And...ta-da! The all-new for 2015 "Innovation Workshop" float from General Motors!

Parade Company tours are available by RSVP year-round, with extended opportunities for Saturday tours available through November and early December (don’t miss the special Family Tour Day on December 5th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.!). For more details and to schedule your tour, call (313) 923-7400 x225 or visit theparade.org.

Wading In Big Shoes - Thanksgiving In Detroit: Tour The Parade Company

What are your favorite Thanksgiving parade memories? Do you watch the festivities on TV each year or do you make your way downtown for the live event? Comment below!

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