In 1979, Todd Marcocci and his father drove four hours to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to watch the city’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Marcocci remembers telling his father that he would one day perform in that parade. His dream came true two years later when he participated in the parade as a cymbals player with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps. In November 2019, Marcocci took that goal one step further by being one of the co-producers of the 100th 6abc Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“It’s kind of funny how the pieces of the pie connected together over time so personally for me,” Marcocci says. “[It’s] emotionally overwhelming. … That impact that was left upon me is being left upon these young performers.”
The oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country, the 6abc Dunkin’ Thanksgiving Day Parade started off small when Ellis Gimbel kicked it off in 1920. Only 15 cars and 50 Gimbels department store employees participated. Since then, the parade has exploded in size and energy, showcasing large floats, balloons, marching bands, dancers, show choirs, and celebrity performers in a 1.4-mile route. The event culminates at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where performers put on a high-energy show as Santa rides in on his sleigh.
For the 100th parade, Marcocci wanted to represent all aspects of the performing arts, enlisting various choirs, dance groups and marching bands. “There were specific things I wanted to see in the parade to make the 100th parade very special,” says Marcocci, who is also president of Under the Sun Productions and color guard director and choreographer for the West Chester University marching band, which performed in the 100th parade.
This year, 21 marching bands took to the streets. Some, like the University of New Hampshire from Durham, participated for the first time. The Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) Area School District brought two of its groups—East Hills Middle School and Freedom High School.
The Tournament of Bands (TOB) All-Star Marching Band returned for the 100th parade with 250 students—about 100 more than in the past. The TOB All-Star Band has performed in the parade since 2009. To celebrate, TOB cut the cost in half, so performers only paid $75 to participate.
“It was a fantastic experience,” says Jeff Dent, director of TOB. “The whole thing was professionally run and produced.”
Todd Marcocci enjoys being part of a parade. Read about another holiday parade he was a large part of here.