HOUSTON – The 72nd Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade is Thursday, and the staging has begun in downtown Houston.
Along Lamar Street and Brazos Street, a lane is closed to traffic for the floats.
For some, this is welcomed as last year’s parade did not happen due to the pandemic. Instead, the city and organizers hosted a re-imagined celebration.
KPRC 2’s Zach Lashway was given a behind-the-scenes tour of a City of Houston Public Works’ warehouse where the floats are built. Artists there are busy putting the finishing touches on some of the floats, meanwhile others are already staged downtown.
Kati Ozanic-Lemberger and her husband Yolle are just two of the artists who work on designing and building floats. The couple has worked on floats for the parade for the last 12 years. They said this year, they began working on floats in September.
“It’s a lot. There’s a lot of planning that happens early on. Hundreds of hours,” explained Ozanic-Lemberger.
This year’s parade will feature 20 high-flying balloons and 14 floats for the parade.
“Things have to be designed and built in a way for maximum impact as the float is passing down the street. Weather is always a concern. I think this year everyone is pretty much prepared for rain and I think everything will hold up. It’s on par with Macy’s, it’s Houston style,” explained Ozanic-Lemberger.
The theme of this year’s parade gives thanks to frontline workers amid the pandemic. Dr. Peter Hotez with Texas Children’s Hospital will be grand marshal. Cirque du Soleil will perform at the start of the parade with an excerpt from Alegria.
Restricted access inside a @HoustonTX Public Works warehouse to watch artists put the finishing touches on floats for the 72nd annual @HEB #Thanksgiving Day Parade. With the one and only @kidfaustino! @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/dwfwcGatZq— Zach Lashway (@KPRC2Zach) November 24, 2021
“To celebrate, we are still all in this together, it is not over yet. Celebrate our gains and realize we still have a long way to go. Houston is strong. Houston is definitely strong. We have been through a lot,” Ozanic-Lemberger said.
The parade kicks off Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at Lamar and Smith Streets. It will stretch 20 blocks. This will mark the largest in-person event hosted by the city since the start of the pandemic. Several hundred thousand Houstonians are expected to line the streets for this year’s parade. It’s one of the oldest Thanksgiving Day parades in the country.