The Parade Today
In 2000, the Chicago Festival Association was given the rights to produce the Field's Jingle Elf Parade by the City of Chicago. Before that time, the parade had been produced for several years by the Chicago Christmas Parade Association. In 1999 the Chicago Christmas Parade Association's last year brought a significant change, as they reverted the parade route back to State Street. The parade had previously been on Michigan Avenue (see above).
Many followers took a great deal of pride that the parade had returned to State Street. However, because of the positive effect that the Michigan Avenue parade route had on the city's economy—bringing many potential holiday shoppers into the many world-famous stores on Michigan Avenue—many individuals voiced great criticism. After all, the Greater State Street Council had made it very clear that no State Street businesses would be open for business on Thanksgiving Day. The Chicago Festival Association responded that although the parade was originally created to stimulate economic growth, the parade now primarily exists as a community celebration. In any case, as the parade has made powerful and surprising growth in only a few years, Chicago's economy is continuing to see the parade's growing benefits. Hence, criticism about its location change has long-since passed.
Since that time, the organization has made many more significant changes, and today the parade is capturing much more attention. In 2002, the Chicago Festival Association changed the parade format from a Christmas or often broadly-labeled holiday parade to the Thanksgiving parade that it is today. In only a few years, the number of spectators on the streets have increased by hundreds of thousands. The parade is also given a live national broadcast. This is generally considered expedient growth, as the parade was available in no more than a handful of cities only two years ago.
Since 2006, McDonald's has been partnered with the Chicago Festival Association as the parade's title sponsor. Although it isn't publicly known how long McDonald's plans to be the parade's title sponsor, they have frequently and publicly expressed great excitement to sponsor such a quickly growing and greatly loved event.
In 2007, the Chicago Festival Association recruited the pop rock group Plain White T's to perform in the parade. In the last couple of years, the band had reached great success and their single Hey There Delilah had been number one on the Billboard Charts for two weeks. Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures, the Plain White T's agreed to do a free performance in the parade, which was no doubt greatly because of the parade's quickly growing ratings along with the event's first national broadcast.
In 2008, the parade was on its 75th year. That year's parade was broadcasted for three hours, from 8 am to 11 am CST on WGN-TV9 and WGN-DT9.1 in Chicago, and WGN America nationwide. This makes the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade one of only two parades (the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade being the other) to be broadcast in its entirety to a nationwide audience. 2008 also featured Grand Marshal Jennie Finch, WWE Superstar (and Chicago native) CM Punk and the Harlem Globetrotters.
In 2010, Grand Marshal Jennifer Beals, Honorary Grand Marshal Ronald McDonald, and Santa Claus were featured in a three-hour entertainment extravaganza. The parade featured the top marching bands in the country, including powerhouses Marist High School, Proviso East High School, Houston County High School and more. The parade featured the debut of several giant balloons as well, including Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone, and Scooby Doo.
In 2011, Grand Marshal Holland Taylor, Chicago's Black Ensemble Theater, the EriAm Sisters and Celeste Kellogg were featured in the parade. The parade concluded with its first closing number, a tribute to Ferris Bueller. In this ending, Santa Claus and WGN's Ana Belaval led the crowd in dancing to "Twist and Shout".
Read more about this topic: Mc Donald's Thanksgiving Parade
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