PHOTOS: Chicago's 79th annual Thanksgiving Day Parade - FOX 32 News Chicago

PHOTOS: Chicago's 79th annual Thanksgiving Day Parade

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Big Apple is not the only city that knows how to hold a parade. The 79th annual McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade kicked off in Chicago Thursday morning.

More than 400,000 spectators were expected to attend Chicago's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and maybe even more will turn out thanks to the unseasonably warm – but very much welcome – weather.

Marching bands from across the country came to participate in the parade, along with many dance troops. FOX 32 News was told more that 100 different performance groups marched down State Street – from Congress to Randolph, in the heart of Chicago's downtown area.

But the sky-high balloons were the Thanksgiving Day Parade's main attraction. It takes hundreds of people to handle the giant balloons, and it took six hours to inflate them all. Twelve were featured in Thursday's parade, including Mighty Mouse, Mr. Potato Head, Tom and Jerry, and Garfield.

The parade is made possible through the efforts many volunteers. It's free and open to the public.

Ronald McDonald was the honorary grand marshal. He's also apparently the second most recognized character by the children across the country.

A Thanksgiving fun fact: Chicago's annual parade was founded in 1934, to lift holiday spirits during the Great Depression. Looks like it's still working in The Second City.

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