DETROIT (WWJ) – The 85th edition of America’s Thanksgiving Parade was poised to make its way down Woodward Avenue Thursday morning, with fans snapping up seats well before sunrise.
WWJ’s Mike Campbell was along Woodward after 6 a.m., where Charlie Dwight of Detroit (see photo below) and Michele Tebay of Port Huron were already taking in the sights.
“They’re a lot more interesting up close than they are on TV,” said Tebay, a first-time paradegoer.
One teen volunteer said, “Getting my makeup done and trying on costumes” were her favorite parts of the morning.
Also spotted during the pre-parade fun were some unicycles, thought to be part of a Detroit high school band’s performance.
But a parade can’t be run effectively without volunteers. And Elizabeth Lubinski of Sterling Heights had the unenviable task of “equestrian escort,” a fancy way of saying that she’s in charge of cleaning up what the horses…leave behind.
“I’m behind the Clydesdale horses,” she said, laughing. When pressed about her actual duties, she jokingly confessed. “It’s a crappy job but somebody’s got to do it.” Lubinski said she enjoys volunteering, but seldom gets takers when she offers them “parade souvenirs.”
While the parade is bigger and better than ever, that wasn’t always the case. The man credited with saving Detroit’s parade a generation ago is Art Van Elslander, founder and owner of Art Van Furniture.
Speaking live on WWJ, he explained what happened in 1990 when he learned that the parade was about to fold.
“When I went in and had a meeting with my creative people, they said…this should never happen. This is a tradition,” he said, adding that because they didn’t act quickly enough, “I had to write a check.”
Van Elslander will be in the Art Van float, designed this year by a Warren high school student.