The 2012 Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade Set For Thursday, November 22 With Balloons, Floats, Bands, Special Guests And More

The steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art offer an ideal viewing spot for the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, the country's oldest and an iconic holiday season kick-off. (Photo courtesy 6ABC)

The 93rd Annual Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade will undoubtedly be another epic visual spectacle as it returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Thanksgiving Day 2012, Thursday, November 22.

Giant balloons, festive floats, lively dancers, costumed characters, celebrities and marching bands (18 of them!) will parade through the city as the streets are lined with thousands of onlookers. It’s going to be another rocking, confetti-filled celebration.

Of course, the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade — the oldest in the entire country — is the unofficial kick-off of the holiday season, so it’s an absolute don’t-miss event whether you’re watching in person or on TV.

Check out our guide to the parade, below:

Parade Route

1. Start point: 20th Street and JFK Boulevard. From there, the parade proceeds east on JFK Boulevard to 16th Street.

2. It turns left onto 16th Street until it reaches the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

4. The Parade bears right, going northwest on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for three blocks until reaching Logan Circle.

5. The procession loops around the southern part of Logan Circle and then continues on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway until it reaches Eakins Oval.

6. The Parade proceeds along the south portion of Eakins Oval finishing in front of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Balloons and Floats

Some balloons to look out for include: Cookie Monster, Scooby Doo, Elmo, Hungry Caterpillar, The Lorax, Frosty the Snowman and T-Rex. Floats this year include Disney Magic Kingdom, a Thanksgiving Harvest-themed float, a music-themed float and, of course, Santa on his sleigh.

Special Guests

This year’s special musical guests include American Idol finalist Justin Guarini, Frenchie Davis from The Voice, the 90s R&B singers of “I Swear” and “I Can Love You Like That” All-4-One, two-time Grammy Winner Rita Coolidge, Kristen Alderson from General Hospital, Charlie McDermott of ABC’s The Middle, country singer Charlie Worsham, Disney Channel singer Coco Jones, Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler, Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and more.

Best Places to Watch

Philadelphia Museum of Art Steps: One of the best places to watch the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade is at the parade’s finish at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Winter Wonderland Expo Tent at Eakins Oval: Warm up in the Campbell’s Winter Wonderland Expo Tent on the south side of Eakins Oval with some hot cocoa and look out for special guests and giveaways.

Logan Circle: Stake out a spot at Logan Circle on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a great view.

Love Park: As the parade loops east from its start at 20th and JFK, Love Park will give you a great view of the floats and characters, especially if you situate yourself on an elevated portion of the park above the fountain.

Capriccio at Cafe Cret: Get a double shot of culture at Cafe Cret, one of the city’s oldest European-style outdoor cafes, situated right on the Parkway.

Sister Cities Park: Sister Cities Park is Center City District’s newest public park, with ample green space and benches.

Barnes Foundation: Take advantage of the lovely courtyard outside the Barnes Foundation for a place to catch the parade action.

Franklin Institute: The grand steps of the Franklin Institute and the sidewalk down below it will be perfect parade-watching vantage points.

Embassy Suites Philadelphia: Located seven blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art straight down the Parkway, the Embassy Suites hotel offers a fantastic view of the fireworks. Staycation perhaps?

The Windsor Suites: The hotel’s rooftop sundeck, or private balconies in select suites, make for good parade-watching spots.

Benjamin Franklin Parkway: Anywhere along the Parkway will afford you up-close views of the parade. Get there early to reserve a spot!

• Want to get mobile with your parade-watching? Head to the start at 20th and JFK Boulevard, then take a shortcut on foot heading north on 20th Street five blocks to the Parkway and catch the parade again as it goes by.

Winter Wonderland Expo

From 8:30 a.m.-noon, stop by the Winter Wonderland Expo at Eakins Oval. You can’t miss the giant white tent that’s become a traditional staple at the parade. Inside you can see expos from vendors, get in on some giveaways and get into the holiday spirit. It’s also a great place to watch the parade.

Food Drive

6ABC and parade sponsor Dunkin Donuts will host their annual food drive for Philabundance as part of the parade. Donate online; add a donation to your grocery order or drop off canned goods at local ACMEs; or, from November 23-December 21, buy a mug from Dunkin Donuts and $1 will go to a local food bank. Pretty cool.

TV Coverage will be streaming the parade broadcast live, as well as the Adam Joseph Parade Fan Cam. 6ABC TV coverage of the parade begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at noon. Tune in!

Getting There

For those who don’t live within walking distance of the parade route, bear in mind that parking in the city is free on Thanksgiving, and SEPTA will be running. For a list of parking garages, check out Visit Philly’s Parking Guide.

Stay tuned for more information on Thanksgiving in Philadelphia.

We’ve included a helpful interactive map of the parade route, below.

2012 Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade
When: Thursday, November 22, begins at 8:30 a.m and ends around noon
Where: Begins at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard and ends at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Cost: Free!
More info:


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  1. The parade route listed has an error. When the parade come across 16th Street it will bear LEFT onto the Ben Franklin Parkway, not right.

    Also, what time will the parade start from 20th & JFK Blvd?

  2. I sure do hope that santa will be on his sleigh this year so all the children along the parade route can see him!!! What a disappointment when a child asks…’where’s santa???’ They go to the parade to see him and there’s absolutely no reason for them not to see him!!! Only to find out he made a ‘surprise appearance at the end of the parade !!! Someone needs to think about ALL the children who go to the parade.

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