Chicago’s Thanksgiving parade returns; another step on the road back to normal

Marist High School’s marching band kicked things off. The Jesse White Tumblers did their gymnastics thing. And people put their fingers in their ears when a caravan of Chevrolet Corvettes passed by, revving their engines.

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Members of the Redford Township Unicycle Club perform along North State Street during the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in the Loop, Thursday morning, Nov. 25, 2021.

Members of the Redford Township Unicycle Club perform along State Street during the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in the Loop on Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Everyone had their favorite moments at the Thanksgiving parade Thursday in downtown Chicago.

For Michelle Cannon, in town from London, it was the guy following the horses around, toting a poop scooper.

“He did his job and got a lot of applause,” she said with a laugh.

For Kirk and Mary Pat Sullivan, of Evergreen Park, it was seeing their 11-year old son, Alexander, marching.

“He’s marching with a troop of stormtroopers, like from ‘Star Wars.’ But he’s a scout trooper,” Mary Pat Sullivan said, explaining: “They’re similar but have different helmets.”

Star Wars stormtroopers walk along South State Street during the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in the Loop, Thursday morning, Nov. 25, 2021.

Star Wars stormtroopers were among the participants in the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in the Loop on Thursday morning.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

For Autumn Gozzola, of McHenry, it was seeing the team of eight Budweiser Clydesdale horses.

“They’re pretty,” said Gozzola, 40, who builds exhibits for trade shows. “Come on, they’re Clydesdales.”

Each horse weighs about 2,000 pounds.

The parade started at State Street and Ida B. Wells Parkway, continuing north for seven blocks, ending at Randolph Street. More than 80 units took part.

Marist High School’s marching band kicked things off. The Jesse White Tumblers did their gymnastics thing. And people put their fingers in their ears when a caravan of Chevrolet Corvettes passed by, revving their engines.

Members of Renacer Boliviano Folkloric Dance Troupe perform along South State Street during the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in the Loop, Thursday morning, Nov. 25, 2021.

Members of Renacer Boliviano Folkloric Dance Troupe perform during the Chicago Thanksgiving parade Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Groups representing myriad cultures found throughout the city showcased traditional outfits and dance.

For Patrick Donley, the novelty of it all was actually that it all felt so normal following a pandemic that had put life on hold and caused last year’s parade to be canceled.

“It’s been desolate in the Loop during the pandemic, and that desolation in the Loop has welcomed crime,” said Donley, who lives in a condo not far from the parade’s route up State Street.

“So that hasn’t been good, but each week I’m noticing more and more people coming back downtown,” he said.

“We’re on the right trajectory,” he added. “This parade, it seems totally normal.”

A concrete mixer dressed as a turkey makes its way north on State Street during the Chicago Thanksgiving parade in the Loop on Thursday morning, Nov. 25, 2021.

A concrete mixer dressed as a turkey makes its way north on State Street during the Chicago Thanksgiving parade in the Loop on Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

It was a sentiment echoed by many who’ve been starved of normalcy during the pandemic.

“I love the parade,” said Mary Odafe, 29, of the Loop.

“I grew up in Ohio watching New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on television. And I literally cried when I came to this parade for the first time in 2018,” said Odafe.

“I want to make this a tradition.”

A performer dressed as a reindeer dances along South State Street during the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in the Loop, Thursday morning, Nov. 25, 2021.

It was a Thanksgiving parade, but more than one performer hinted at a holiday yet to come, like this person dressed as a reindeer.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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