The cast of Sesame Street greets the crowds in New York from their colorful parade float.
Share this story on Twitter.

Top Photo: The cast of Sesame Street greets the crowds in New York from their colorful parade float. Photo credit:

Although there are many parades that take place in the world, Arizona has its share of famous annual parades!

People of all ages have enjoyed the excitement and celebrations of parades over the centuries. Parades date back to as early as 3000 BC when religious processions were considered a form of a parade. In years to come the military would have soldiers line up and march through the streets of their town so that civilians could see these brave soldiers as they marched off to war. Parades have EVOLVED with the times and now there are parades formed to celebrate sports teams after winning a championship.

Turkey wearing a pilgram's hat leading the Macy's parade.Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Many of us grew up watching this parade on television on Thanksgiving morning. What many don’t know is that the parade was really a marketing PLOY to get shoppers to start their Christmas shopping at Macy’s. The first Macy’s parade took place on Nov. 27, 1924 in New York City. The parade consisted of Macy’s employees waving to the crowd, floats that had nursery-rhyme themes with Mother Goose characters, live animals from the zoo and the finale was a float with Santa Claus, signifying that the holiday season was approaching.

Since 1953 the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been televised on NBC. The parade was canceled three years during World War II, but surprisingly the parade continued during COVID in 2020, but it was televised with no spectators on the streets. This year the parade will be televised on Nov. 24 with colorful balloons like Astronaut Snoopy, Bluey and Paw Patrol. Floats like Baby Shark, Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues will delight spectators watching live, on television or streaming on phones or computers.

Float covered with roses. Words Rose Parade is on front, presented by Honda.Rose Parade

This parade has taken place in Pasadena, California for over 130 years. The parade always takes place on New Year’s Day unless that day fall on a Sunday, then the parade takes place on Jan. 2. The 2023 Rose Parade will take place on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. The theme of the parade is “Turning The Corner.”

The 2023 parade has Arizona participants. The Grand Marshal will be former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the Catalina Foothills Falcon Band from Tucson will perform. This is the largest high school marching band in the state of Arizona.

Large Sun balloon carried by parade members. Fiesta Bowl Parade

This year celebrates 50 years of the parade with the theme “Legends Made Here.” The parade features horses, floats, giant balloons, marching bands, celebrities and more. The two-mile parade begins south on Central Avenue, turns east on Camelback Road, turns south on Seventh Street and ends at Minnezona Avenue in Phoenix. The parade will take place on Dec. 17, 2022 at 10 a.m., and will be aired live on Arizona's Family 3TV, online and through the AZFamily app.

Parade Chair Ben Smith says this year’s parade will have over 80 entries and around 3,000 participants. The Grand Marshal will be NBA broadcaster Al McCoy. McCoy has been the voice of the Phoenix Suns for 51 seasons.

“The Fiesta Bowl Parade is an interactive parade and has something for everyone,” says Smith. He mentioned that there are between 150,000 to 250,000 spectators making the parade the highest attended single-day event in Arizona. “We are the largest parade in the west with giant balloons,” says Smith.

This is Smith’s first year as Parade Chair, but he has volunteered and worked with the parade for 19 years. There are 25 members of the parade committee who start planning the parade in May. Smith said Marvel Heroes and Justice League are part of the parade as well as other entertainment that people will definitely remember.

Arizona Milk Producers sponsor a Half-Pint Judge Contest. Arizona students in grades 3–5 can enter the contest by submitting a one-minute video telling about their favorite dairy product. The winners will be Arizona Milk Producers Half-Pint Judges at the Fiesta Bowl Parade. Deadline to enter is Nov. 8. To apply visit and click on “Contests” under the “Fresh News” tab.

Western themed parade, with cowboys riding on horses. Scottsdale Parada del Sol Parade & Trails End Festival

This annual parade in downtown Scottsdale started in 1951 as The Sunshine Festival. Members of the Scottsdale community would gather to watch a parade and celebrate with a cookout where the parade ended. In 1953 the parade was renamed Parada del Sol which translates to “walk in the sun.” In 1956 the first rodeo was added.

Scottsdale has bragging rights to being the “West’s Most Western Town” and spectators will see colorful floats, dancing horses, wagons, marching bands and gain insight to various cultures.

At the end of the parade the Holbrook Hashknife Pony Express will deliver mail to the Scottsdale Museum of the West. This is the only active Pony Express in the world and they have been part of the parade since 1959. Dozens of riders on horseback wearing authentic cowboy clothes transfer mail from Holbrook to Scottsdale. Each rider is sworn-in as a postal carrier before they embark on the 200 mile journey. (See page 15 to see how you can send a letter to be delivered by the Holbrook Hashknife Pony Express).

The Trail’s End Festival is a huge party for kids and families. Live music, games, pony rides, a petting zoo and other entertainment will make it fun for all. The parade will take place on Feb. 4, 2023 at 10 a.m. The Trails End Festival will follow. The parade route will begin on Drinkwater Boulevard, travel along Scottsdale Road, and will end at Brown Avenue and Indian School Road. 

Clydesdale horses pulling a wagon full of parade attendees.La Fiesta del Los Vaqueros–Tucson Rodeo Parade

Billed as the “Nations Longest Non-motorized Parade” the Tucson Rodeo Parade is two miles long with horses, wagons, stagecoaches, buckboards, surreys, floats, music and more.

Herb Wagner, Public Information Officer has been a member of the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee since 1986. “People come from all over the nation and the world to see the parade,” says Wagner. “For many families, it is a tradition and a family reunion to gather at the parade every year.” Wagner stated the 2021 parade had 129 entries with over 2,000 participants. There were 283 horses, 62 Tucson Rodeo Museum wagons and 20 other wagons. He mentioned there were 19 musical entries and 10 of them were bands. “The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus has been participating for 60 years and the Tucson High and UA Bands have participated almost since the beginning of the parade,” Wagner says.

The parade began in 1925 and was held downtown until 1991 when it was moved near the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. The next parade will take place on Feb. 23, 2023 at 9 a.m. The parade route begins east on Ajo, turns south on Park, west on Irvington and ends on 6th Avenue at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. There is grandstand seating on Irvington near the rodeo grounds.

Since the 1950’s, Tucson students receive two school days off so they can attend the parade and rodeo. “We are the only place in the nation that closes schools for rodeo,”Wagner explains.