Thanksgiving Day Parade Preview - Your Chance to Volunteer at an ALL- FUN event


Historic Opportunity:  Call for Volunteers to help make the

80th McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

An 80th year of Smiles and Success!


Over 1,300 volunteers needed for one of Chicago’s oldest holiday traditions, November 28

Application Deadline:  October 18, 2013



CHICAGO (August 21, 2013) – The Chicago Festival Association, producer of Chicago’s  Thanksgiving celebration, is now recruiting volunteers to assist during the 80th McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, which marches up State Street from Congress to Randolph Thursday, November 28, 2013, 8 – 11 am (CST).  Volunteers are an essential part to bringing this FREE family-friendly event to downtown Chicago, to hundreds of thousands of on-street spectators, and to the millions watching at home.



Volunteers march alongside the 80th Annual Parade’s celebrity Grand Marshal, Honored Guests and the Parade’s lineup of over 100 diverse groups, including a dozen loveable character balloons, top marching bands from across the country, festive floats, cultural groups, theatrical performances and equestrian groups, plus Honorary Grand Marshal Ronald McDonald®, Chicago’s favorite fun-loving bird and Parade mascot, Teddy Turkey, and, of course, Santa Claus.  The parade is broadcast, in its entirety, live for three hours on WGN 9 Chicago and nationally on WGN America.



“Each year, families from all over Chicagoland make volunteering in the Thanksgiving Parade a part of their family tradition, right up there with carving a turkey,” noted Philip K. Purevich, Chicago Festival Association Executive Director.  “They join us for an unforgettable morning.  We even have one family where three different generations participate, all together, year after year.  Without these volunteers, a feat of this proportion would never be possible and this year, being a milestone year, we hope even more people decide to join the fun.”



There are many opportunities available for individuals (12 years of age and older), families and groups to participate in this magical event, including the following roles:


  • BALLOON HANDLER – Ever wonder how a big, yellow, 70-foot Big Bird makes his way up State Street?  Volunteers help keep the balloons flying high as they maneuver 3,600 cubic feet of helium under the El tracks and down the parade route. Must be 18 years of age as of November 28, 2013 and attend Balloon Training at Parade School on Saturday, November 9 at 9:00 am


  • BANNER CARRIER – Smile and wave!  Volunteers lead the way along the parade route while carrying banners for each organization represented.  Volunteers will walk between 1 and 3 miles on parade day and are required to wear khaki pants.


  • ROUTE MARSHALS – Especially apt for the profoundly punctual.  Route Marshals are stationed at every block to maintain the speed and spacing of units as they march up State Street.  Route Marshals communicate with step-off, TV Zone and parade participants to achieve perfect parade timing.



  • DISBAND – Where do all the participants go at the end of the Parade route?  Volunteers show units to their appropriate disband areas, ensuring units maintain forward motion and keep the TV Zone from backing up.


  • MERCHANDISE/STREET TEAM – Volunteers can join the Merchandise Team and be the first to see everyone’s smiling faces as they pass out goodies to the crowd, sell souvenirs and assist in distributing parade surveys.  They also reward fellow parade volunteers as they pass out Volunteer Gift Bags at the end of the parade.


  • POO CREW – Volunteers who join the equestrian waste removal squad receive the loudest cheers on the route!  Always a crowd favorite, Poo Crew teams will be assigned to majestic equestrian units to keep the parade route sparkling they work together to remove animal waste.  Great for groups and families to do together.


  • TECH CREW – The behind-the-scenes heroes!  The Tech Crew volunteers help set up and tear down the parade route, including VIP area, bleacher seating, dasher wall and much more.  By making the parade route ready for the hundreds of thousands of street-side spectators and millions of viewers at home, they set the stage (literally!) for a memorable event.


  • UNIT LIAISONS – Unit Liaison volunteers are responsible for specific groups of performers and escorting them through the entire parade route.  They inform their group on where to go and when.


  • VIP/HOSPITALITY – Calling all social butterflies!  The Hospitality Committee hosts the parade’s VIP guests by assisting with food service, clean-up, ticket collection and crowd control.  They also get to experience a fantastic view of the parade from the VIP section.


  • VOLUNTEER CHECK-IN/COMMAND CENTER – These volunteers are always happy, smiling, “morning people” who welcome all the wonderful McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade volunteers the morning of the event.  Team members will be responsible for checking in volunteers, helping with the volunteer breakfast, as well as assisting with distributing all the fabulous gift bags.


All volunteers are required to attend Parade School at the Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive) Saturday, November 9, 9 am.  General admission to the museum is free to Parade School attendees for the rest of the day.


Applications are currently being accepted until Friday, October 18.  To apply, visit or call 312-239-0457.



McDonald’s Owners of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana represent more than 100 owner/operators and nearly 500 restaurants throughout the greater Chicagoland region, including stores as far north as Gurnee, west as Morengo, South as Watseka and east to Northwest Indiana.  MOCNI manages and facilitates all marketing, sports, community relations, educational and philanthropic programs throughout the region, and is responsible for implementing and maintaining consistency at every Chicagoland restaurant.


About Chicago Festival Association

The Chicago Festival Association is a unique organization with the mission of producing community events that positively impact the people of the city of Chicago, its guests and visitors.  With a full-time staff of three, augmented by seasonal assistants and over a thousand of hard-working volunteers, the Chicago Festival Association strives to ensure the best in free family entertainment for the thousands of Chicagoans on the Parade route and those viewing the national broadcast.


The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade takes place rain or shine Thanksgiving Day each year.  Additional information about the 2013 lineup and special guests will be announced at a later time.  Participants and performers are subject to change.  For more information about the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, please visit




Photos courtesy of Chicago Festival Association

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