Santa Claus at the H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Image: H-E-B

Houston’s first annual Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1949 when Santa arrived at Union Station and rode his sleigh to the downtown Foley’s department store. Today, the annual parade is produced by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, with creative floats, live music, and an array of performances from Houston area organizations. 

After many holiday celebrations were re-imagined last year due to the pandemic, the    H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade will be back, in person this year to kickstart the Houston holiday season. 

"Houston has many reasons to be thankful this year, and we are thrilled to once again host this wonderful tradition in downtown Houston," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "The pandemic has been challenging on everyone, but we are a resilient and robust community. I look forward to seeing the smiling faces of children and adults enjoying the parade as we honor all of the exceptional heroes."

This year, which marks the parade's 72 anniversary, will honor frontline workers一healthcare and retail employees, teachers, and volunteers, who have worked throughout the pandemic as the backbone of our community. According to a release, the holiday spectacle will showcase "20 high-flying balloons and 14 colorful unique floats," where each float will represent a group of frontline heroes and highlight their work. 

"The events industry has gone through immense challenges over the past 19 months, and we could not be happier returning to in-person events," Susan Christian, Director, Mayor’s Office of Special Events and parade producer tells Houstonia. "We are grateful to our sponsors, H-E-B, HCA Houston Healthcare, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and Highland Village for their continued support as we honor all of our frontline workers at this year’s parade."

Dancers at the 2019 H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Image: H-E-B

The procession, which will be held downtown, stretches across 20 blocks. The Thanksgiving Parade marks the largest in-person event hosted by the City of Houston since the start of the pandemic. This year, the parade’s 2021 Grand Marshal, Dr. Peter Hotez, Professor and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and the Co-Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, will lead the parade through downtown Houston. The 2021 celebration will be robust, complete with the famous Tom Turkey and Santa Claus, as well as high stepping marching bands, drill teams, and musical performances from locally known and renowned acts.

The parade will also feature a special performance from Cirque du Soleil, with an exclusive excerpt from its most iconic production, Alegría. The Canadian entertainment company is also celebrating a return to live performances following a hiatus caused by the pandemic. Alegría opens November 13th for a limited engagement.

"Whether it’s leading a fantastic parade through downtown, sharing with those in need during challenging times or filling holiday tables with the freshest and most flavorful foods available, H-E-B is thankful for the privilege to celebrate with our fellow Houstonians and continue this holiday tradition," said Lisa Helfman, Senior Director of H- E-B Public Affairs, Houston.

The H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade will begin on Smith at Lamar, head north to Walker, east to Milam, south to Pease, west to Louisiana, north to Clay, west to Smith, and north to end at Smith and Dallas.

The 72nd Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, November 25th at 9 a.m. downtown. For more information, visit the Mayor's Office. 


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