Student volunteer opportunity to walk in 95th annual America’s Thanksgiving Day parade


Photo courtesy of The Detroit Historical Society

Through the OSI, students have the opportunity to walk in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit, Michigan, is an annual televised event that garners a vast amount of viewers each year. This year, the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) and The Parade Company are coming together to offer students a volunteer opportunity to walk in this year’s parade.

Volunteers will need to be able to walk a mile in differing weather elements. Participants will be carrying out various tasks such as banner carrying, leading the floats, or being behind the floats. There are multiple roles available for participants.

All participants will also be wearing holiday-themed costumes to enhance the holiday festivities. The costumes will be picked up prior to the event via drive-through at The Parade Company Studio based in Detroit. Drive-through specifics will be sent to participants by The Parade Company. Costumes will need to be returned to the studio within a week after the parade.

A Q&A virtual zoom meeting will be happening on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. and Nov. 16 at noon. Participants only need to attend one of these events. In addition, a zoom link and an orientation video will be sent to volunteers. The zoom meeting will be intended to provide information and to answer any questions.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade provides everyone with a day of fun and excitement. It can give students a unique opportunity to participate in a time-honored tradition that they may not have experienced before. Everybody who participates in the parade helps animate and breathe life into this event.

“I think the biggest thing is that it’s fun, it’s exciting, to wake up and watch the parade is super cool,” Daryl Blackburn, coordinator of leadership and service programs at the OSI, said. “What’s nice about it and the reason we offer it is to allow students and their families to walk in the parade that’s nationally shown on tv.”

Volunteers in this event play a crucial part in bringing the parade together. In addition, college and high school students will play a significant role in making the parade entertaining for audience members.

“In general, it’s just to bring the life of the parade together as a whole,” Blackburn said. “We’re partnering with Project Upward Bound, who brings high schoolers and their team to come together with Oakland as a whole to bring these volunteers to the parade.”

Volunteers of this event can gain a great experience that will impact them in various ways. They are able to have a fun time, meet other people, become more acquainted with OSI, and build connections.

“I think they’ll gain a fun experience as well as a chance to meet other people from Oakland,” Blackburn said. “They’ll get a chance to meet people and walk in the parade with them. In general, just building connections not just with us, but with other people in the parade as well. It’s a great networking experience and just a way to bring out the joy in everyone.”

The parade is something that people think about when it comes to Thanksgiving. All the different signs, floats, costumes, and activities provide the audience with a compelling experience.

“When people think of thanksgiving, one of the things they think about is the Thanksgiving Day Parade,” Emily Bernas, graduate assistant of leadership and volunteer programs at the OSI, said. “I think it is cool to be a part of that. To be able to say, “Ohh yeah, I’ve been in the thanksgiving day parade one time.” Also, just seeing the floats up close and all the volunteers that help. I think it is really cool for just the volunteers to be a part of that. To be able to see all the work that goes into it and the scale of it all.”

For students interested in this event, it is advised to sign up as soon as possible. To sign up for this volunteer opportunity, contact the Office of Student Involvement or email [email protected].