Thousands gathered along State Street in the Loop on Thursday for Chicago’s 82nd annual Thanksgiving Day parade.
Six giant inflatables, 19 marching bands and a list of performers were in the parade, which started about 8:45 a.m. The parade traveled north along State, starting at Congress Parkway and making its way to Randolph Street.
Among the parade participants was actor David Arquette, the grand marshal, who traveled midway through the parade in a car. Someone portraying Captain Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies made his way through the crowds, posing for snapshots. A fleet of Star Wars villains — Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Tusken Raiders and the newest nemesis, Kylo Ren, were also on hand from the 501st Legion, a Star Wars club that specializes in movie-quality costumes.
Mother Nature was merciful, giving patrons a light shower that lasted about four minutes, after the parade was more than halfway done. But neither attendees nor performers were deterred.
Pilsen native Maria Moreno, 54, a 30-year veteran to the parade, used to be accompanied by her daughters when they were young, but today continued the tradition with her granddaughter.
“I liked the entire parade,” said 10-year-old Itzel Moreno. “I don’t really have a favorite thing because it was my first time.”
Maria feels the parade was better in previous years because there were more floats and local politicians “like Mayor Daley and [Secretary of State of Illinois] Jesse White.”
“Now it’s shorter and slower,” she said. “It’s a lot of cars and princesses no one knows.”
Brian Lundh made the short walk from his home in Printer’s Row with his wife and their daughter, who’s almost 2. It was his third time at the parade.
“She really loves the parades,” Lundh said as his daughter clapped along to Jones County Junior College’s marching band playing a rendition of Jingle Bells.
Lundh said he has no plans to shop at stores today or tomorrow after the parade, opting to avoid the mayhem that comes with Black Friday sales.
“I’m just going to take care of all that online,” he said.
Arnold Macauley echoed the same sentiment, preferring to avoid the crowds and take care of things online. Macauley was joined by his 4-year-old daughter Christine, who watched the first parade of her life and said she really enjoyed the giant inflatables.
“She was really upset we missed the lights parade on Michigan Avenue last week, so she made sure I brought her to this one,” Arnold Macauley said.
Robson Macartney, a high school junior, was part of the Black Horse Troop from Culver (Ind.) Military Academy. He was supposed to be home in Arkansas last Saturday. Instead, he spent 12 hours at the airport watching two of his flights get canceled because of the snow.
“I don’t get to go home often,” Macartney said. “But I’m here and had a great time. I love doing this kind of stuff and representing the school.”
First-time participant Amanda Lopez, a theater major at Columbia College, marched with Chicago Swordplay Guild, a group dedicated to “practicing western martial arts including medieval and renaissance sword fighting.”
“We have some theater people,” Lopez said. “This helps enhance their acting with historically accurate sword fighting techniques. We train from real manuscripts that demonstrate the techniques.”
Despite the late kick-off, the parade ended on schedule, at about 11 a.m., and the parade zone became swarmed with people, horses, floats and charter buses, as people tried to get home for Thanksgiving dinner.