One of Chicago's biggest parades soon will be marching down State Street once again.
The Uncle Dan's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off at 8 a.m. Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and runs through 11 a.m. The parade marches down State Street from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street.
"What's exciting is the parade this year has a new title sponsor," said Phil Purevich, managing director of CFA Events and executive producer of the parade.
Purevich, who was born in Gary and now lives in Chicago, gave a nod to Uncle Dan's Outdoor Store for its major sponsorship this year. "Uncle Dan's has actively been in Chicago a long time," Purevich said, adding the store began as an Army and Navy Surplus store. "They're a great company to work with."
For the past 22 years, Purevich has presided over Chicago's Thanksgiving Day parade. The managing director, whose family lived in Gary's Glen Park neighborhood, said his family later moved to Roselawn, Indiana.
"My first parade in Chicago was in 1997," Purevich said. His experience working with parades, he explained, actually began in Indianapolis where he coordinated parades for the Indy 500.
Purevich said one of the most common questions he's asked is if his job just centers around doing tasks/projects for Thanksgiving Day.
"They ask 'What do you do the rest of the year?'" he said.
Purevich said it's really a year-round project.
"I focus on growing the event year after year." He starts searching for acts and participants almost immediately after every Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In the past, Purevich said seeking out acts used to require visiting various places to watch live performers. "Now with more YouTube stations, I do a lot by watching videos," he said.
This year's parade will feature 16 staged theatrical performances, more than 20 marching bands, equestrian groups, cultural groups, celebrities, various inflatables and more.
Among new groups featured in the parade, Purevich said, is the City of Zurich (Switzerland) Police Band. "They are world class musicians and get invited (for events) all around the world," he said. Purevich said it's an honor to have them joining the Chicago parade this year.
Parade attendees who enjoy theatrical works will have the chance to see floats and performances featuring productions such as "Women of Soul" at Black Ensemble Theater, "WaistWatchers The Musical," "Miss Saigon," Ballet Folklorico Sones Mexicanos, A & A Ballet, Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament and more.
Purevich, who finds much enjoyment these days in producing parades, said he wouldn't say he was a person who was necessarily a big parade fan as a child. He didn't actively seek them out or anything.
"The job just sort of found me," he said. He soon figured out that he "liked" doing this after his Indy 500 experience.
Purevich said they expect 400,000 people to attend the parade and about 3 million television viewers. He said he'll be stationed in the TV area or pit during the event.
"We want to create memories for families that come out," Purevich said. "We want this to be an inter-generational experience."
The Uncle Dan's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcast live in Chicago on WGN-Channel 9 and nationwide on WGN America. For more information, visit chicagothanksgivingparade.com.