Detroit (WWJ) –  Snow fell on the thousands of people who lined Woodward Avenue in Detroit Thursday morning for the annual America’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Snow covered the parade floats and Woodward Avenue as people, young and old, cheered the bands, celebrities and other units as they made their way down the 2.9 mile course from outside the Detroit Institute of Arts to Campus Martius.

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“It’s the one thing that Detroit should never, ever lose,” Art Van Elslander, who founded Art Van Furniture and is a major supporter of the parade, told WWJ’s Tom Jordan during a live interview.  “I call it the jewel that Detroit has and has had for many years … I think it’s just a wonderful day.”

Former Tigers manager Jim Leyland was the Grand Marshall.  Among the celebrities in the parade were Ruben Studdard, pop singer and American Idol season two winner, and Santa Claus.

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“He’s cool,” said 5-year-old Alex Robinson when he saw Santa, adding he wanted a race car for Christmas.

One Michigan State Police trooper working the parade route told WWJ’s Laura Bonnell even though he was working, he was enjoying the parade just like everyone else.

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Ahead of the parade, approximately 22,000 people ran and walked on Woodward Avenue as part of the Fifth Third Turkey Trot.