From the Vault: Cincinnati's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1975

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Posted at 8:00 AM, Nov 24, 2016
and last updated 2018-11-22 02:12:22-05

WATCH the 1975 Thanksgiving Day Parade in the video player above.

CINCINNATI -- On Thursday, many Tri-State families will only watch a Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.

But decades ago, Cincinnati had a huge Thanksgiving Day Parade downtown. It featured TV stars like Uncle Al and Captain Kangaroo and the big man himself -- Santa Claus.

In 1975, WCPO hosted Cincinnati's "first 'pro' Thanksgiving Day parade," as Cincinnati Magazine called it at the time. 

"The first annual Channel 9 Holiday Parade is billed as a seasonal welcome as big as the Big Apple's own, with an 'American Christmas' bicentennial theme to boot," wrote "BKD" in the 1975 Cincinnati Magazine article.

"WCPO wanted to present a broadcast that combined elements such as community needs, downtown pride and vitality, family recreation and a healthy, unadulterated flair for showbiz," according to the article. "The answer came in the form of a first-class parade."

WATCH the goings-on "backstage" at the 1975 Thanksgiving Day Parade in the video player below.


The parade started at Riverfront Stadium -- only five years old at the time -- then continued to Second Street, turned onto Plum, then took Fifth Street to Broadway.

The Grand Marshal was Captain Kangaroo, whose show was broadcast on Channel 9 in the '70s. Uncle Al had a float in the parade, as did Mr. Patches and Lucky the Clown as well as Miss Ohio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Several high school bands took part.

The downtown parade didn't catch on to rival Macy's Parade in New York, but the Price Hill Thanksgiving Day Parade is still a cherished tradition on the West Side.

The Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race, too, is a turkey day tradition that's alive and well. This year will be the 109th annual event. It's the sixth oldest Thanksgiving Day race in the country, Runner's Magazine reported.

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SEE more video and stories about Tri-State history in our "From The Vault" series.