The Parade Company

Detroit's dream factory at work on Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Detroit holds all sorts of surprises. Though many of its buildings look nondescript and unassuming from the street, their inner lives can be full of fascinating secrets.

Such is the case with the warehouse and headquarters of the Parade Company. From the outside it looks like any other hulking structure in a ramshackle neighborhood. Those who enter, however, find anything but despair. Instead, a fantasyland of giant floats, larger-than-life heads, fanciful works in progress and the entertaining crew of creative people who make Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade happen are all hard at work. 

It’s quite a sight. The stuff that dreams are made of. And those dreams will step off the corner of Woodward Avenue and Kirby Street on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 28, making their way down to Congress, just south of Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. 

The stroll will involve a staff of hundreds, including technicians, float handlers, drivers and more, marking 87 years that the parade has graced Detroit city streets. 

We asked our esteemed photojournalist Kelly Johnston to take a trip to this dream factory and meet the people behind the scenes of this spectacle. For even more photos check out the rest of her images here.


Michael Jackman

Born in 1969 at Mount Carmel hospital in Detroit, Jackman grew up just 100 yards from the Detroit city line in east Dearborn. Jackman has attended New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University and Wayne State University, though he never got a degree. He has worked as a bar back, busboy,...
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