Friday, November 22, 2013

Michigan Thanksgiving Traditions

Traditions are pretty important. They dictate family gatherings, create sports rivalries, inform manufacturing practices, and influence behaviors, likes and dislikes, all sorts of things. Michigan has some pretty fun Thanksgiving traditions and if you are new to the area, aren’t familiar with them or just want a nice refresher, below are some great traditions from the wealth of Michigan history.

The Thanksgiving parade has been a holiday tradition in Detroit for more than 80 years (since 1924). Local business and community leaders volunteer as the parade’s distinguished Clown Corps, doling out candy and good cheer to all parade attendees. The parade was first televised locally in 1948 and today is broadcast nationally to more than 100 million viewers.

Did you know that the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation was formed in 1982 to keep this tradition alive? The Parade Company is the marketing and operating division of the foundation and has been instrumental in organizing, fundraising, and supporting this great tradition. Also, the Parade Company has been responsible for the Red Wings victory parades (1997, 1998, 2002 & 2008) and several other area events. The Parade Company is sought out for assistance in other states and other countries for its reputation and awesome presentation of the one-of-a-kind spectacles of fantasy, spirit and enthusiasm featured in America’s Annual Thanksgiving Parade. This year’s theme is Downtown Our Town and will feature a bigger route and eight new floats. The parade will be broadcast live Thanksgiving Day on WDIV Local 4 from 9-10 AM and on WJR 760 AM.   

For your own up close and personal ‘Day in Paradeland’ is Saturday November 30th, from 10:00 to 5:00. A $6 dollar ticket at the door gets you access to a look at the parade floats, photo ops with Santa, face painting, free arts and crafts, and AM 910 Disney Radio broadcasting live. It’s a chance to see the creativity displayed in the floats – designed and manufactured right here in Detroit.

 Another great holiday tradition for Detroit is the Lion’s Thanksgiving Day Game. The first Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit was played in 1934 against the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears. Ever since, the Detroit Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving Day game. This year’s opponent will be a much despised Green Bay Packers team. 

Of note this year, the Lions, United Way, and playworks are collaborating to present a locally themed halftime show. For more on the 'Meet Up to Eat Up' vignette and other highlights, check out the Detroit Free Press article

Ford Field, where the game will be played, was built incorporating a six-story former Hudson’s warehouse into its design. It took 32 months to build and was completed in August 2002. Several Michigan companies were involved in the building process.

Friday, if you’re not hitting the stores for early Christmas sales, you can see the Nutcracker at the Detroit Opera House from Nov 29th – Dec 1st.  Times are 7:30 Friday evening, 2:30 and 7:30 on Saturday, and 2:30 on Sunday.

The Village of Holly is hosting the Dickens Festival Nov 29th – Dec 1st and Dec 14th and 15th. It’s the 40th annual celebration of the Classic A Christmas Carol in downtown Holly. Step back in time as you stroll the streets, visit the shops, pubs and eateries and get caught up in the story.

The Henry Ford Museum is not to be missed as, starting Nov 29th – Jan 5th 2014, the Dearborn landmark welcomes families. Celebration includes LEGO and Lionel Trains displays, a 25 foot Christmas tree with decorations and more. Kids can visit Santa in the new Winter Wonderland area.

Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village are another highlight event and Holiday worthy tradition. With candlelit paths, live entertainment, costumed presenters, horse-drawn wagons and rides in a Model T, its memory making at its finest.

Will locally grown food be at your holiday table this year? This growing trend starts with an 'Eat Local' challenge. This blog has great ideas and menus submitted by is followers. Michigan has some of the best grown apples for pies, cranberries for sauce, and local farms are a source for a variety of protein options including quail, chicken, turkey, and soy-based vegetarian alternatives, and of course, locally grown vegetables. You can 'search local' to find a farm, farmer's market, or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) near you.

What holiday traditions will you be enjoying this Thanksgiving? 


Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org

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