DetroitSydney Fields’ first Thanksgiving Parade was a year late.
Her parents, Rhonda, 34, and Mychael, 33, from Novihad were planning to take her to the American Thanksgiving parade on Woodward Avenue in 2020, the year they also wanted to introduce her to Santa, but the pandemic meant that the 2 year old should wait.
Thanksgiving may be a holiday for Sydney, who seems to have already chosen Christmas as her favorite, her parents have said. Her request for a Barbie doll was recorded with Santa, whom she will finally meet in the coming weeks.
Nevertheless, Sydney still woke up on Thursday morning shouting “Parade! Parade! Parade!”
From her perspective, perched comfortably on the shoulders of her grandfather Chris Fields, 59, near Campus Martius Park, she could barely look away from Woodward, where the parade, marching bands, cheerleaders and clowns would soon pass Sydney and her family.
“She’s definitely ready for this,” said Rhonda Fields.
A year after the event was pre-recorded in 2020, the American Thanksgiving Parade has come back to life, live and in person, for its 95th edition. The show kicked off at 8:45 am, in the rain along a nearly 3-mile stretch of Woodward from Kirbyto Congress.
“I feel a little cold and wet, but it’s great to be back,” said Joe Fleck, 67, of Oakland Township.
The Flecks, including Joe’s wife, Meg Fleck, their children, Erin, and Mike and his stepdaughter, Jennifer, all wore custom clown costumes and, through hats falling in the rain, beamed after the descent by Woodward. Along the way, they helped toss 400,000 colorful bead necklaces to spectators and posed for photos with children and with other members of the Distinguished Clown Corps.
The group, which was parading in its 38th year, was formed “when the parade was actually in financial trouble,” JoeFleck said. living.”
The body contributes to the parade every year. When the group formed in 1979, Fleck said, it numbered around 25 clowns. This year, 150 participated and marched.
“In return, you get an outfit,” Joe Fleck said. “And there are other perks along the way, then the right to go down to Woodward on parade day and please little kids.”
Outfits are color coded. White means that a clown started within the past five years. Silver means they have walked for five to 10 years, gold means 10-15 years, and a coveted cloak means a clown has taken Woodward down more than 15 times. Every Fleck has a gold outfit, but Jennifer, who is in her sixth year, and wears silver.
Clowns can design their own costumes. Erin Fleck, 41, from Chicago, chose a jackalope theme. Mike Fleck, 37, from Rochester Hills, went with a banana for his hat. Their father said he opted for a more traditional mascot.
“I’m on ThanksgivingHamster,” he said.
“Yes, very traditional,” said Meg, also 67.
The Flecks’ conversation was punctuated by the sounds of marching bands descending Woodward, sandwiched between company floats, and alternating between holiday songs and the occasional pop anthem.
As the Rochester High School Falcon Marching Band serenaded spectators lining both sides of the avenue with Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” and the Detroit Public School marching band performed a choreographed performance, almost orchestral of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. “Ann Gaines looked out the door of her daughter Regina’s wine store, House of Pure Vin.
Gaines, a retired teacher who now wears an apron bearing the wine store logo, lives in Southfield.
“But just across the border, so I still consider myself a Detroiter.”
She grew up in Detroit and said the parade was a tradition of a lifetime. Her father would take her and her siblings to the parade near the Wayne State University campus, then go to the Lions game “when they were a winning team.”
“We used to stand in front of the Vernorsfactory. That tells you how old I am, doesn’t it? said Gaines, 75.
She returns to Detroit every year to help Regina with the store, noticing that she is “cheap labor,” and uses that as an excuse to get a good view of the parade.
“Coming here to watch this parade and help my daughter almost brings tears to my eyes,” Gaines said. “Because it brings me back some great times in this city.”
Gaines has just received his COVID-19 vaccine booster and said seeing the crowds in the parade gives him hope the pandemic may be over soon.
“I’m not mistaken. I know we have a very long way to go,” she said. “But we’ve made it this far. And I just hope that sort of thing keeps happening for us.”
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