99th Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade shines on bright, cold day

Tim Jimenez
November 22, 2018 - 7:26 am
2018 Thanksgiving Parade cast of character balloons

Tim Jimenez / KYW Newsradio

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UPDATED: 10:57 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Thousands braved the bitter cold Thursday to keep a tradition alive — the 99th annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia. 

A windy Thanksgiving morning meant most of the big cartoon character balloons had to stay grounded. But the marching bands and the floats kept the crowd happy. 

Many came prepared and dressed for the occassion.

“Two sweatshirts and a T-shirt,” said Andrea, a spectator there with her kids.

“Long shirts, sweaters, just layers," said Warren Logan, who brought his granddaughter CC.

PHOTOS: 2018 Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

Angela Derosato from Bally, Pa., a volunteer handler for the Olivia the Pig balloon, said, “I have four thermal shirts on and three pairs of pants and hand warmers. So, it’s all good."

It’s her second year participating in the parade.

“Today’s my birthday, so I get to celebrate my birthday, and Philadelphia is throwing me a parade!”

At the inflation station, volunteers did not let the low temperatures spoil their fun. 

David Jones, one of the  handlers of the Underdog balloon, is volunteering for the first time. He was layered up and ready to go. 

"It is so amazing to do this," Jones said. "It's been on my bucket list for so long. I’ve been prepping for this for a couple months. I’m totally excited. Cold is not gonna stop me!"

After the parade, he said, he'll get a little bit of rest. "But this is my preparation, so I can eat a lot!"

Many people were lined up early along the parade route and hung out for hours in the bitter cold.

Anna Welch from Morgantown, Pa., was with her daughter Lauren.

“We’re freezing, but we’re pretty good," Welch said. "We got our hot chocolate and our sleeping bags and our blankets, so we’re pretty good."

One wonders how the marching band from Hawaii was feeling. It may have been freezing, the wind may have been a slap in the face, but most of the people who talked what drove them to go can boil it down to one word.

“Tradition," said Tom Slavinski of Drexel Hill. "You’ve got to keep tradition.”

Andrea added, "This is a tradition my dad started with me. So, I bring my kids now."

John from Cherry Hill said he's been coming to the parade since his daughter was born. "We’ve been coming here every year for a family tradition," he said. "Rain, snow, cold  we come here."

Seven-year-old CC, with her grandpa Warren Logan, was on the parkway for her very first Thanskgiving Day parade.

“I wanted to see it in real life and not on TV," she said. "I didn’t care about the cold, so I just wanted to see the parade in real life.”

Logan may have looked cold, but his heart on this holiday was warm.

“I’ve done this before with my aunt when I was a little boy her age, when I used to go to Gimbels. So, I wanted to give my granddauggter the experience," he said.

The oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country, kicked off at 8:15 a.m. and ended after noon.

"It's crazy to think: 99 years of the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the country. And that's the pride that we carry with this every single year," parade co-producer Todd Marcocci said. "And of course we're all looking forward to next year for the big one-zero-zero."