Charlotte’s Thanksgiving parade will have new wrinkles

This year’s Novant Health Thanksgiving Parade will have some new wrinkles – front-row reserved seating, additional entertainment and a reversal of the route.

“Instead of just making people feel good, this year’s parade will actually do some good in the community,” said parade director Robert Krumbine of Charlotte Center City Partners.

Krumbine and Paula Vincent of Novant Health announced Thursday that the parade will provide 500 turkey dinners to needy Charlotte-area families. In return, members of many of those families will be among the approximately 1,000 parade volunteers.

The parade will step off at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 27, marking the 68th year for the event in Charlotte.

The Thanksgiving Day tradition nearly came to an end last year, when the former parade organizers lost their main corporate sponsor. But Charlotte Center City Partners, Novant Health and several other area companies stepped in at the last minute and held the parade.

Now, with a full year to prepare, organizers are excited about this year’s parade.

“We have a number of top-notch performers who will be part of the parade,” Krumbine said. He said the event will feature 14 marching bands, 25 giant balloons and 14 large floats. Charlotte’s parade will even have an original song, “Celebrate the Season,” written by former Charlotte resident Rob Pottorf, who has written music for a number of films and television shows.

Spectators will have a new way to watch the parade this year – from the front row. Organizers will sell reserved front-row seats for $15, with tickets going on sale Monday.

“We had people ask us for this, so we decided to go ahead and do it,” said Moira Quinn of Charlotte Center City Partners. The reserved seating will line both sides of the street near the start of the event.

The parade route again will be on South Tryon Street, but it will be reversed from recent years, starting at Stonewall Street and moving northward to Ninth Street.

“That’s actually the original route of the parade many years ago,” Krumbine said.

Krumbine also said the parade is in need of volunteers, for tasks including holding the large inflated balloons and walking in costumes. Volunteers can sign up at the parade website, www.novanthealththanksgivingparade.com.