By Yolanda Rivas

2 min read November 2019 — It is well-known that Philadelphia is a city of firsts in terms of the nation’s history and the development of key industries. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that the City of Brotherly Love also hosts the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the nation. 

This year marks the 100th celebration of the Philadelphia 6ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade. What is now one of Philadelphia’s treasured traditions began as a marketing strategy by former department store Gimbels to promote the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The first parade took place in 1920, shortly after the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was completed. Gimbels hosted the parade until 1986, when the company went out of business, and WPVI-TV took over the parade production. 

“The first parade was started with 15 cars, and 50 store employees,” said Todd Marcocci, a co-producer of the 6abc/Dunkin Thanksgiving Day Parade, in a written statement on the parade’s official website. “It was specifically described that those 15 cars were lavishly decorated in crepe paper.”

Decade after decade, the parade has been a special celebration for families around the region. One of the most exciting moments of the parade was the tradition of Santa climbing a fire department ladder several stories up the Gimbels building to Uncle Wip’s Toyland.

“The route was down the parkway around City Hall, down Market Street to the original Gimbels building. And then Santa would get off and go up the ladder and into the building,” said Robert DiBenedetto of Blue Bell, Pa, in a statement on the parade’s website. 

After five years, the parade started to gain more recognition. Today, the Philadelphia parade features 15 balloons, 16 floats, over 20 marching bands, 66 youth tap, dancing and choir groups and more than 20 celebrities and special guests.

“It’s a family tradition. The streets are filled with happy people,” said 6abc meteorologist and parade co-host Cecily Tynan in a written statement on the parade’s website. “It’s just a perfect way to start your holiday season.” 

To celebrate the 100th Thanksgiving Day parade, the public will have the chance to win several prizes, including a Florida trip for six, tickets to an Eagles vs. Cowboys game, and more. 

This year’s parade will kick off at 8:15 a.m. from 20th & JFK in Philadelphia, and will be broadcast on 6abc from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

To learn more, visit:

6abc Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade: