On Thursday my family and I braved the crowds to watch the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in the Chicago. It was our second year in a row. But, it was a completely different experience - and we've got the photos to prove it.
Last year we got down to the parade route pretty late and grabbed a viewing spot on Randolph Street just east of State Street where all of the huge, inflatable balloons go to, well, get deflated. At first I thought our sons would be devasted to see some of their favorite cartoon characters slowly lose air and their shape, and turn into a pile of plastic. But, boys will be boys, and I think they liked seeing the destruction. So, instead of watching float after float go by, we watched balloon after balloon go down.
But, this year was different. We were late again, but that's where the similarities end. Instead of going where the balloons were deflated, we planted ourselves at the intersection of State and Lake Streets where all of the floats, cars, and marching bands take their final bows. It was a great vantage point since we got to practically stare down each act as they came down the street. Our sons loved being right in the mix of it all and had to be constantly on the move as we bobbed and weaved with the crowd to get the best view - and dodged the approaching banners, bands, cars and the like.
As someone with a more keen eye on the global diversity of our fair city these days, I enjoyed seeing something I missed last year - all of the floats, dancers, and others from cultural groups representing nations from around the word. Greece, Mexico, India, Taiwan and other countries took the grand stage (or street in this case...) and put their culture and heritage on display. I loved it. My family loved it. And, the cheers from the spectators that surrounded us showed how much the crowd loved it too.
Here are a few of the images I took of some of the cultural organizations taking their final steps down State Street for the 2012 McDonald's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Our vantage point of the parade changed a little as we moved back and forth and side to side at the direction of the parade management staff and police officers. But, no matter where we went the view and the entertainment was incredible. My hands-down favorite float was from the Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago. Their excitement and enthusiasm was contagious - just like the music blasting from their float that got everyone up and dancing along State Street on an early holiday morning.
I was surprised and enthralled by the international feel of this Chicago parade. It seemed like a fitting way to celebrate this American holiday and cemented a new holiday tradition for our family - a trip to the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends, family and everyone and anyone who matters most to you - and that you created wonderful experiences, memories and traditions of your own that will last a lifetime.
Here's to world citizens!