The cold can’t stop the Philadelphia tradition of the Thanksgiving Day Parade

The fact that the Thanksgiving Day Parade felt more like the bitter cold Mummers Day Parade didn’t stop Alexis McCormick and her family.

“It’s kind of like a family tradition for us,” said McCormick, 21. “We like to come out here to the parade in the morning. Have a good time. Even though it’s cold we’re all together.”

Parade watchers like McCormick were bundled up, gyrating, doing whatever they could to keep warm while waiting for the annual spectacle to come their way.

The 6ABC Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day parade is celebrating its 99th year. It is the oldest such parade in the nation. When the parade began in 1920 it was known as the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade, named after the department store on the east side of City Hall on Market Street. Gimbels used the parade as a way to kick off the Christmas holiday shopping season. Santa Claus would make a grand entrance at the end of the parade.

WPVI-TV has broadcast the parade for more than 50 years. The station later took ownership of the parade when the Gimbels department store folded in the mid-1980s.

The parade route shifted from Market Street to the Parkway, and the Philadelphia Art Museum is now the backdrop for both the television entertainment and the grand finale.

The winds this year were as big of an issue as the cold. Controlling helium balloons required a little extra attention. But the cold didn’t impact one new addition to the 2018 parade as Gritty, the Flyers new mascot, made his Thanksgiving parade debut.

And while watching the parade on TV was warmer than bouncing up and down along the parade route to fight off the bone-chilling freeze, Courtney Grimes of South Philadelphia wouldn’t have it any other way.

She has a double reason for braving the cold. The 35-year-old was there to honor her deceased father by carrying on the annual tradition of visiting the parade that he started decades ago, and to support a friend working on one of the floats.

And as for keeping warm?

“I do have four pairs of pants on, two socks, Uggs, three shirts, and a jacket,” she said. “Most of me is sweating besides my hands and my head.”

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