Calvin Johnson Jr., Detroit Youth Choir, & More Join Thanksgiving Parade

America’s Thanksgiving Parade returns to downtown Detroit as an in-person event this year
Calvin Johnson Jr. - thanksgiving parade
Calvin Johnson Jr. is one of the grand marshals for this year’s America’s Thanksgiving Parade. // Photograph courtesy of The Parade Co.

The Parade Co. has announced a star-studded lineup for the 95th America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit. Former Detroit Lions player Calvin Johnson Jr., Olympians, Broadway performers, and, of course, Jolly Old St. Nicholas are among the special guests who will make an appearance this year. 


Johnson, who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame this summer, and Bishop Edgar Vann of Detroit’s Second Ebenezer Church will serve as the grand marshals for the parade, which is presented by Gardner White. The event will also honor Marla Drutz, vice president and general manager of WDIV and a Detroit business leader, as the 2021 honorary grand marshal. 


Celebrity guests include Olympian swimmer Catie DeLoof, softball player Amanda Chidester, golfer James Piot, weightlifter Katherine Nye, and diver Michael Hixon. The Taylor North Baseball Team, which won the 2021 Little League World Series, will also make an appearance. Performers Rachel Mac, who was a finalist on season 20 of NBC’s The Voice; the Detroit Youth Choir; Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences Choir; and the cast of The Lion King Broadway musical, which will open the parade with a performance of “Circle of Life,” will appear as well. Santa Claus, as always, will close out the event. 

Bishop Edgar Vann - thanksgiving parade
Detroit Bishop Edgar Vann will also serve as a grand marshal. // Photograph courtesy of The Parade Co. 

“We have this amazing tradition in our city and for nearly a century, America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner White has brought our community together in a very special way,” says Tony Michaels, president & CEO of The Parade Co., in a press release. “We are elated to have these exceptional individuals joining us on Woodward Avenue and across much of America on Thanksgiving morning.”   


The theme for this year’s parade is Love on Woodward. After running the parade as a televised-only event last year due to the pandemic, The Parade Co. is opening the event to an in-person audience this year. Grandstand tickets are available from $55 to $70 online


WDIV will begin pre-parade television coverage at 6 a.m. on Nov. 25. The parade will air live from 10 a.m. to noon on the station and reach 185 television markets across the U.S. A pre-parade radio broadcast, hosted by WJR’s Paul W. Smith, will also take place from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and live parade radio coverage will be hosted by WOMC’s JoAnne Purtan and Jim Johnson from 10 a.m. to noon. 


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