It's a Bird… It's a Plane… It's a Giant Floating Elmo?

Get ready for high flying balloons at the Thanksgiving Day Parade

They've got schools for aspiring young doctors, attorneys and future CEOs.  But did you know that you also need to go to school to learn how to operate an enormous, inflatable balloon? Yep, the organizers of the 75th McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade are not messing around – this parade is the real deal.

Hundreds of volunteers attended Parade School on Saturday, Nov. 15 on the lawn of the Museum of Science and Industry, practicing their balloon-toting skills on a 60-ft., intimidating Paddington Bear containing 5,000 cubic feet of helium.

Good old Paddington will join Elmo and 10 other jumbo balloons on Thanksgiving Day (next Thursday, Nov. 27) from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for the annual parade up State Street.  14 equestrian units, 32 specialty units, 14 floats, eight stage performances and local and national celebrities will march. The parade starts on State Street at Congress Parkway and moves north to Randolph Street.

For more information, contact the Chicago Festival Association at 312-235-2217 or check out

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