Suvarna Garge (Editor)

6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Presented by  6abc, Dunkin' Donuts
Original language(s)  English
Country of origin  United States
6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade
Starring  Jim O'Brien (1976-1982) Dave Roberts (1978–2009) Lisa Thomas-Laury (1983–2002) Cecily Tynan (2003–Present) Rick Williams (2010–present)
No. of episodes  97 (as of 24 November 2016)
Location(s)  20th and JFK Boulevard, across JFK Boulevard to & around Philadelphia City Hall up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Art Museum

The 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual Thanksgiving Day Santa Claus parade held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is currently sponsored and aired by ABC owned-and-operated television station WPVI-TV, through a co-sponsorship agreement with restaurant chain Dunkin' Donuts. It is currently the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States. It was formerly known as the 6abc IKEA Thanksgiving Day Parade, 6abc Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Channel 6 Mellon PSFS Thanksgiving Day Parade, Channel 6 MasterCard Thanksgiving Day Parade and originally the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade until Gimbels department store closed operations in 1986.


The 97th annual 6ABC - Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade took place on Thursday, November 24, 2016 starting at 8:30 am local time.


Started in 1920, the Philadelphia parade is billed as the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country. Like other parades of its type, it features balloons, floats, high school marching bands, and celebrities. The first Thanksgiving Day parade held in 1920 was sponsored by Gimbels department store. When the parade was begun, it was called the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade. Ellis Gimbel, one of the founders of Gimbels Department Stores, wanted his toyland to be the destination of holiday shoppers everywhere. He had more than 50 store employees dressed in costume and sent to walk in their first Thanksgiving Day parade. The parade featured floats and marchers paraded down Market Street, with the finale consisting of Santa Claus arriving at the eight floor toy department at Gimbels by climbing the ladder of a Philadelphia Fire Department ladder truck. Gimbels emulated other holiday parades already in existence. The Santa Claus Parade in Peoria, IL is held on the day after Thanksgiving and is the oldest, continuously-held holiday parade in the country. It was founded in 1887 under the sponsorship of Frederick Block and the Schipper & Block (later Block & Kuhl) Department Store. Block's example led to the founding of similar parades in other cities. The retail parade tradition continues today.

End of Gimbels Era

When BATUS Inc. was unable to find a buyer for Gimbels in 1986, the department store chain was liquidated; the fate of the country's oldest parade was up in the air. Boscov's (a family-owned department store based in Reading, Pennsylvania) and WPVI (self-named "6abc" in its programs and promotions) took over sponsorship. They renamed the event as the 6abc Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Parade's co-sponsor 6abc is an owned-and-operated television station of the Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company (since 1996), and thus benefits from access to Disney characters and personalities.

In 2004, the parade celebrated its 85th anniversary with new balloons and floats. An opening number paid tribute to the celebrities who had participated in the parade during its history. In 2005 the parade had the most stars in the parade's history, as well as eight new balloons, more than ever before. In 2007, the parade presented the first parade float with an ice rink on it, used by Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour (WPVI and High School Musical are both owned by Disney).

In August 2008, Boscov's Department Stores filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and planned to close several stores, due to financial problems from the widespread recession. They gave up sponsorship of the parade. The Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA, which has a major store and its North American home office in nearby Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, took over sponsorship until 2010.

In June 2011, it was announced that Dunkin' Donuts would sponsor the parade. In addition to balloons, and marching bands, the parade features ABC Network celebrities, stars from stage and screen, Disney characters, and local personalities, including members of the Action News team.

Television coverage

Although the parade is broadcast by WPVI, it is also syndicated to television stations throughout the United States and can be seen worldwide on the station's website, Good Morning America, ABC's national morning show, sends a reporter to the parade each year and covers pre-parade festivities. Recently, Good Morning America then-weather anchor Sam Champion has participated in the hosting of the parade, marking his 6th year of participation in 2013.

Channel 6 (WPVI) has broadcast the parade since 1966. The first person to host the parade was Jim O'Brien and Dave Roberts became a perennial host upon joining the network in 1978. After the sudden death of O'Brien in 1983, WPVI's Lisa Thomas-Laury "took the reins" as Roberts's co-host. They hosted the parade together for nearly 20 years until Thomas-Laury began to experience health problems in 2003. This led to WPVI weather anchor Cecily Tynan taking over for Thomas-Laury. In 2006, the parade was broadcast in high definition (HDTV) for the first time.

Since her return to Action News, Thomas-Laury helped host the final portion of the parade in 2005 and in 2006. In 2009, the station announced that Roberts would retire from broadcasting on December 11 of that year. Thomas-Laury made a special appearance in the 2009 parade to celebrate Roberts's years as host. The current hosting team is Tynan and WPVI news anchor Rick Williams, who replaced Roberts.

Along with Tynan and Williams, Action News weather anchor Karen Rogers reports from the sidelines during the parade and hosts the annual countdown to the parade from 8:30am to 9:00 am. This is usually shown exclusively in Philadelphia. Along with Rogers, fellow weather anchor Adam Joseph travels the parade route on a golf cart to give viewers a glimpse of the parade as it travels down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. He also hosts the "Parade Fan Cam" where viewers can log on to the stations website and see all of the people who line the Parkway as well. Some of the people actually end up the actual broadcast of the Parade. In 2014, Alicia Vitarelli took over Adam Joseph's role on the parade route and as the host of the "Parade Fan Cam".

WPVI also broadcasts annual live coverage of Philadelphia's Pulaski, Columbus, Puerto Rican, and Independence Day parades.


Balloons have been created to represent a wide variety of characters from popular children's books, including folk tales; toys, comic books, animated movies (cartoons), TV series (such as Sesame Street), films and other genres. Increasingly over the years, the balloons have featured characters who have tie-in marketing of toys, games and accessories.


2010 performances:

  • New: Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintstone, The Jetsons
  • Returning: Cornucopia, Sam I Am Green Eggs & Ham, Mr. Potato Head, Big Bird, Toy Train, Scooby-Doo, Twinkles the Snowman, Nutcracker, Tom The Turkey, Horton the Elephant, Elmo
  • 2011

    2011 performances:

  • New: Buddy The Dinosaur from Dinosaur Train, Curious George, Red from Fraggle Rock, Apollo The Dog,
  • Returning: Tom The Turkey, Cornucopia, Madeline, Scooby-Doo, 2 Gift Packages, Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintstone, Toy Train, 2 Gingerbread Men, Kermit The Frog
  • 2012

    2012 performances:

  • New: Thomas The Tank Engine, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Lorax, Mr. Conductor from Dinosaur Train, Fireman Mr. Potato Head, Sid the Science Kid
  • Returning: Cookie Monster, Scooby-Doo, Bugs Bunny, Elmo, Pizaz the Snowman, T-Rex, 2 Gift Packages, Tom the Turkey
  • 2013

    2013 performances:

  • New: Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony, Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba, Strawberry Shortcake, Wilson from Chuggington, The Cat in the Hat, Plaid Stocking, Olivia the Pig, Pajanimals
  • Returning: Mr. Conductor from Dinosaur Train, 2 Gift Packages, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Grinch, Horton
  • NOTE: Most balloons had to be grounded due to severe winds and as a result were not seen on television.
  • 2014

    2014 performances:

  • New: Maisy Mouse, Caillou, Garfield Santa, Bob the Builder, Mistletoes the Snowman
  • Returning: Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony, Mr. Potato Head, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba, Strawberry Shortcake, The Lorax, The Grinch, Pajanimals, Mr. Conductor from Dinosaur Train, The Cat in the Hat, Horton, Nutcrackers
  • 2015

    2015 performances:

  • New: Phila-A-Turkey, Tasmanian Devil, Daniel Tiger, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Bubbles the Goldfish
  • Returning: Red from Fraggle Rock, Garfield Santa, Strawberry Shortcake, Sam I Am Green Eggs and Ham, Scooby-Doo, Mr. Potato Head Fireman, Gift Boxes, Thomas the Tank Engine, The Grinch, My Little Pony
  • Stars, performers, and acts

    In addition to the well-known balloons and floats, the parade also features live music and other performances. High-school marching bands from across the country participate in the parade, and the television broadcasts feature performances by famous singers and bands. The rancocas valley regional high school dance team danced there for the last 3 years and will continue to this year. Since 1997, the parade has also featured a tap routine called "FanTAPulous", with more than 450 dancers from the East Coast. Other special guests include state and national beauty contest winners, cheerleaders of major sports teams, casts from musicals performing in Philadelphia, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Christie Rampone, Nicole Barenthart, Carli Lloyd and Heather O'rielly from the gold medal winning US women's national soccer team will also there. One featured group is the 7-Ups show choir from Bucktown, Pennsylvania. They are a school-run show choir that performs along the East Coast, performing from Philadelphia down to Washington, DC.

    6abc Dunkin' Donuts Holiday Food Drive

    For more than 25 years, WPVI-TV has partnered with the Boy Scouts of America Cradle of Liberty Council in their Scouting For Food program to collectively coordinate one of the largest food drives in the nation. (In recent years, until 2006, it was called the 6abc/Boy Scouts Holiday Food Drive). In 2006 the Holiday Food Drive amassed 120,000 lbs of food and for 2010 Boy Scouts troops' efforts led to the collection of over 40,000 lbs. of food towards the grand total. The food drive distributes paper bags to residents' homes and collection boxes at local stores in the region. A few weeks later, they are picked up and sent to help those in need at Thanksgiving and the end of year holidays. The Boy Scouts also go to the parade route every year and collect food from spectators. The parade and food drive sponsors are generally the same. It was announced in June 2011 that Dunkin' Donuts would also co-sponsor the food drive. Proceeds of the food drive currently benefit Philabundance.


    6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade Wikipedia

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