Behind the Scenes of America's Thanksgiving Parade
November 22, 2022

Behind the Scenes of America’s Thanksgiving Parade

Show Notes

On this episode, Chuck Gaidica is joined by Tony Michaels, President and CEO of The Parade Company. Together, they pull back the curtain on what goes on behind the scenes of America’s Thanksgiving Parade as they prepare to stroll down Woodward Avenue once again.

In this episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, we explore:

  • Past parades with stories from Chuck and Tony
  • Parade themed trivia
  • What goes on behind the scenes of one of Detroit’s most iconic annual events

Transcript

Chuck Gaidica:
This is A Healthier Michigan podcast, episode 119. With the holiday season now upon us, we’re hanging out with Tony Michaels from The Parade Company to play some trivia and learn more about what goes into Detroit’s very own America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Welcome to A Healthier Michigan podcast, the podcast dedicated to navigating how we can improve our health and wellbeing through small, healthy habits we can start right now. I’m your host, Chuck Gaidica. Normally, every other week we sit down with a certified expert to discuss topics like nutrition, fitness, and a whole lot more. But we’re going to work that into today’s episode with a real expert on America’s Thanksgiving Parade. This is kind of a themed trivia episode, we’re giving you an inside scoop into what goes on behind the scenes of one of Detroit’s most iconic annual events. So with us today is the President and CEO of The Parade Company, Tony Michaels. It is great to see you.

Tony Michaels:
It’s great to be here, it really is.

Chuck Gaidica:
Always good to see you. That was an annual hug, I look forward to every year, so this was my first time in years.

Tony Michaels:
I’ll tell you, we miss you.

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh, thanks.

Tony Michaels:
I mean, you were the Woodward Avenue guy.

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh, that’s what kept me awake and warm. So this is the 96th year of America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And in celebration, we want to do a little parade trivia, maybe get some anecdotal stories from you too, because I know you have been part of this for, how many years now?

Tony Michaels:
Well, I’ve been the President CEO for 13, but a sponsor and a board member for many, many prior to that.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
So yeah, I’ve got great parade roots. Is that a good way to…

Chuck Gaidica:
I got it.

Tony Michaels:
It’s in my DNA.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, that’s good though, because you are the energy behind taking this to different levels, which I watched with my very own eyes over the course of time. So what we want to do, too, is maybe pull back the curtain, not so much on the Wizard of Oz, but to really talk a little bit about some of the things that come up on the parade. When you look back, what would you consider some of the great achievements in the bar being set high for this parade?

Tony Michaels:
Well, I think first and foremost, we had to improve everything. And this was going back to 2009. Everything needed to be improved. And the staff itself was, I don’t want to say downtrodden, but there wasn’t a lot of money at The Parade Company, and we needed to fix everything, because if you fix it and make it great, great sponsors and partners like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and so many others realize that this is a place to partner up with.
And I can proudly say that the team caught on and we’ve improved so much. And right now we’re on a little bit of a good roll and we’re never done improving everything. And as you know, Chuck, we’ve got to make it great. We look at the parade as being owned by the people of Detroit, our region, and our state, and we have to deliver a great product. So that was first and foremost, and the rest follows. Sponsorship right now is doing really well.

Chuck Gaidica:
Good.

Tony Michaels:
We’re not arrogant about it. We’re not cocky. We over deliver. We have to do all the right things all the time, to make this great for people.

Chuck Gaidica:
And it’s very easy to use the word iconic, but it really is one of those things that becomes tradition, because we’ve just come through this season of where traditions kind of went away. You couldn’t hug, you can’t shake, you can’t kiss. You had a social distance. And when you’re able to be part of something that brings tradition back to your life, I think that’s a calming effect on people.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, and I’ll tell you, you mention all of that, and that’s why we couldn’t go away. So we figured out in 2020 how to do it.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
2021, we were back on Woodward. Our group persevered. But here’s the other key, sponsors did not go south. They stayed with us the whole way. And people thanked us for being there during those times when you couldn’t hug and couldn’t have family over and couldn’t do all those things, the last couple of years. So we’re pretty proud of that, but now it’s time to motor up again and here we go. I mean, we’ve got nine brand new floats this year, it’s a record. Another 15 which have been in for a year or two. It’s just going to be a great, great year. It really is.

Chuck Gaidica:
And having been to The Parade Company, watching them come from kids’ ideas spilling out to paper and then winding up in a float, all those years, it is like being a kid in a candy store. And I’m talking about as a big kid, I don’t mean just the little kids, we know that’s going to be a gee whiz factor, but adults alike, because we’ve grown up, I got here in 82, and I still consider this home, and I consider that I grew up watching America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. Is there anything better on Thanksgiving? And if you’re not down on Woodward with seven, eight, 900,000 people that morning.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Tony Michaels:
You’re watching on WDIV with a 21 rating at a 45 share.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Tony Michaels:
It’s crazy. It really is. But it’s the fabric of our city, region and the state. It really is.

Chuck Gaidica:
This is also, it’s kind of like me looking at the Emmy’s or something going around on a pinwheel, and we’ll come back to that point in just a minute.

Tony Michaels:
Pinwheel, pinwheel.

Chuck Gaidica:
We’ll come back to that. But it really is this thing that’s award winning. And there was a time, and I saw it happen, where we were always nationally paid attention to. We were part of the national coverage, but then the name changed to America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And I know you’ve won, is it two years in a row now, you’ve got an award?

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, USA Today we were voted number one holiday parade in America.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
Of course, the last couple years were a little different.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
We’re going to get that back, aren’t we?

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Tony Michaels:
We’re going to get people voting and get USA, we’re going to win that award, we hope. Yeah, it’s a big deal. I will tell you, just on Thanksgiving morning alone, I will get over 320 texts from not only people in our market, but from across America saying, I’m watching the parade, because we’re syndicated now, in 185 cities across America. And people say how nice, I feel like I’m back home on this great holiday. That is a charge.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
I have to tell you, it really is.

Chuck Gaidica:
One of the cool things for me, and there’s so many of them over the years, a lot of years, like 25 years, was, I could say way before Will Ferrell about Santa Claus, I know him, because I got to hang out with Santa. Giving the key to the Mayor to handle was fine. But being around Santa and seeing the looks on kids’ faces as that parade winds down every year on Woodward is just a blessing.

Tony Michaels:
It’s incredible. It really is. And yeah, you handled the key. I mean, you didn’t take one of those keys, did you?

Chuck Gaidica:
I never took a key, no, but well, there was security with the Mayor. I couldn’t do much of anything really.

Tony Michaels:
Okay. We just have to make sure you didn’t walk away with the key. But here’s the other part, is that morning starts with the S3 Turkey Trot.

Chuck Gaidica:
That’s right.

Tony Michaels:
And you talk about health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, people out there running five and 10K, 15,000 strong. That’s a big deal.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Tony Michaels:
Being able to run down Woodward with all of those people lining Woodward and us getting the race off the street in time when the floats start coming down. Yeah, the timing’s great, but the health factor’s there.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Tony Michaels:
So many people say they ran the S3 Turkey Trot and then they watched the parade and then they went to the Lion game. Is that the trifecta of all time?

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. And then there’s a little Turkey thrown in there, so yeah.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
You’re going to have a great meal. But that’s also one of the most fun, the Turkey trot, one of the most fun races to watch, because you get people dressed up in Thanksgiving outfits, you’ve got people in tutus, you’ve got people running in Santa outfits. It is a ball to just watch it.

Tony Michaels:
Yes. Yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
Absolutely. And we have the Mashed Potato Mile, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan helps sponsor different things with the S3 Turkey Trot.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. It’s pretty cool. We have great people in our lives, I have to tell you, Chuck.

Chuck Gaidica:
So let’s talk, you want to talk a little trivia?

Tony Michaels:
Let’s do it.

Chuck Gaidica:
Let’s do it. Okay. So…

Tony Michaels:
Wait, what year were you born?

Chuck Gaidica:
I was born in 1958.

Tony Michaels:
Okay. So you’ll know everything from 1924.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. No, I don’t quite know that. But I do have some questions. So we’ll riff on these and then if you want to throw in some other info, because I think that’s the beauty of us being able to get together, because you’ve forgotten more than most people know about the parade. I mean, you know all this stuff. All right. So, let’s see. What year did the parade first roll down Woodward Avenue.

Tony Michaels:
Okay. The math is not going to make sense.

Chuck Gaidica:
Okay.

Tony Michaels:
Because we say it’s the 96th Parade, in 1924 was the very first parade, but there was World War II, so there were a couple of years taken off there. So 1924, and it came down, I believe, Cass and then over to Woodward. It was kind of a funny little, little path there.

Chuck Gaidica:
And today that has to still be one of the few times that the trains, that everything gets shut down on Woodward Avenue, if not the only time.

Tony Michaels:
In fact, we cannot thank the QLINE people enough, Matt Culin and the whole group there, because they’re going to shut it down on Wednesday. We have so many floats and they’re 120 feet long, we have to double stack them on Woodward.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
Down at the DIA on Wednesday. And if the QLINE was running, we don’t know what we would do, to be quite honest with you. So thanks to them. And yeah, these floats are big. 120 feet is really big. And the QLINE, thank you. QLINE people.

Chuck Gaidica:
So there was another major city that started a Thanksgiving Day parade that same year, in 1924.

Tony Michaels:
New York City.

Chuck Gaidica:
Is it?

Tony Michaels:
New York City, absolutely.

Chuck Gaidica:
Was it always brought to you by Macy’s? Do you know?

Tony Michaels:
I don’t know the very beginning if it was called the Macy’s Day Parade or not.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
I’m supposed to know that, aren’t I?

Chuck Gaidica:
No, no, no. You don’t have to know you. You just need to know about Detroit. I was just curious because that’s one of those names that got associated with it.

Tony Michaels:
Right.

Chuck Gaidica:
But now that you’ve, and for years, it’s not just now you’ve got this network nationwide.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has got to be the one.

Tony Michaels:
Right, right, right.

Chuck Gaidica:
Okay. So what year was the parade first broadcast on radio? Interesting.

Tony Michaels:
WWJ Radio, one of the very first signals in the nation.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
1931.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
1931. And people laugh, they go radio. Well, there’s visuals. It’s a big event. We still do it today with WOMC.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
It’s on radio. Paul W does his morning show prior to that on radio. It’s great.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, when you think about it, you can listen to a game. We listen to the football. We’re out running errands, we’re listening to a game and somebody’s doing play by play. So there is something that’s different than watching it on television, obviously, but if you’ve got the right people doing it.

Tony Michaels:
Absolutely. No question.

Chuck Gaidica:
And then when did it start getting picked up by television?

Tony Michaels:
1959 on WWJ and WXYZ. 1959. So, that makes you a year old.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. Right.

Tony Michaels:
You remember watching?

Chuck Gaidica:
And I wasn’t here. I was in Chicago.

Tony Michaels:
Ah, there you go. It’s a long time ago, and boy, it’s come a long way. The broadcast today, as you know, and you were such a part of it.

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh, thanks.

Tony Michaels:
It is fabulous. It really is. What a team at WDIV.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. So if we’ve looked at this idea of America’s Thanksgiving parade, it’s interesting to me that in the day, WWJ was also the call letters of a TV station. So it wound up being split, right?

Tony Michaels:
Yes.

Chuck Gaidica:
Between two different entities. And I’ve seen, I was just at the Historical Society, I’m not sure, I’m going by memory if I’ve seen the pictures there, or in a book, of the old fashioned cameras up on the back of what looked like pickup trucks back in the fifties.

Tony Michaels:
Oh yeah. The shots are amazing.

Chuck Gaidica:
And we’re not talking live, at the very beginning, right? We’re just talking, somebody’s capturing film and running it back somewhere.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, yeah. Crazy.

Chuck Gaidica:
Can you imagine?

Tony Michaels:
Pretty neat. But the footage is so cool.

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh yeah. So who founded America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Tony Michaels:
J.L. Hudson’s. Yeah, Joe Hudson, who just passed away just recently. Yeah, boy, they had their heart and soul into the parade. And do you know, little fun fact, can I throw one out?

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure, please.

Tony Michaels:
Drum roll? Doing the drum. There you go. In order to walk in the parade, you had to work at Hudson’s at the time.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. And that was an exciting moment for the people at Hudson’s.

Chuck Gaidica:
I’ll bet.

Tony Michaels:
They got to be in the parade. And much like today, like the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan float, we will have people from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan walking with their float. So you’ve got 23, 24 floats, and you have people from each of those various companies in costume walking with all those parades. So we kind of kept that tradition going.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, is that where the Distinguished Clown core sort of came from? Or was that always a separate entity? Because you’ll see people along, even the balloon handlers, that’s quite an honor to be able to say, I’m carrying this part of the balloon.

Tony Michaels:
Oh yeah. It really is. And there’s a balloon school to learn how to do it.

Chuck Gaidica:
Interesting.

Tony Michaels:
Crazy. But the Distinguished Clowns were started back, Tom Adams…

Chuck Gaidica:
Okay.

Tony Michaels:
One of the names from the past. They had this idea to help out the parade financially. So you would be a distinguished clown, pay a thousand dollars, or $2,000 back then, The Parade Company makes your costume, we still do it today. It’s a thousand dollars a clown. We have 180 clowns, if not 200, some years.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
And you keep that same costume for four years, then you get upgraded and you get a zipper, and then you get a cape, and you keep moving up every four to five years, and everybody pays that thousand dollars a year. Your present CEO, Dan Lapp, is now an unruffled clown, I believe we call it, he doesn’t participate as a clown that year, but he pays the thousand. And he’s a ruffled clown. Ruffled clown. I’m sorry.

Chuck Gaidica:
It’s kind of like clown emeritus.

Tony Michaels:
Yes. Clown emeritus. Yes. And we thank Dan and so many. My wife is in her 11th year.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
As a clown.

Chuck Gaidica:
What’s so cool about that is that people on the parade route may never know. I didn’t know until I got a tap on my shoulder and I would have to do a double take, what titan of industry, what person was there to say good morning or put some beads on my neck. And they were people who, it took me a minute to recognize them. And I was seeing these people a lot, even on camera. And so you don’t recognize how many big shooters are out on Thanksgiving morning.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, and if I start naming them, I did mention Dan, but Dan’s not marching anymore, but he’s there for us. But Sid Ross, Matt Culin, I mean, the list just goes on and on. There’s so many people. It’s quite a family. It really is.

Chuck Gaidica:
So we look at the parade route, I know it’s changed even in recent years, but if we start to tally up miles, is there an average length of the parade route that you can talk about?

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, it’s just under three miles. About 2.7.

Chuck Gaidica:
Okay, yeah.

Tony Michaels:
We start the DIA and we go past campus marshes, and then we literally break everything down up at Congress and Larned and all those floats start coming back home to The Parade Company on Mount Elliott. It’s quite an undertaking. And it’s a long walk, you think about the people with the big heads, how about those? You’ve got all the cartoon characters and the big heads of Detroit, they’ve got their thing up on their shoulders for close to three miles.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. That’s an undertaking.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, and I’ve seen the wind, there are mornings where there’s been snow. So there’s a kind of that iconic snow globe look, like we shook up Detroit a little bit, there’s a little light snow.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
I’ve seen the wind cause, well, Chilly Willy decided to become Canadian one year.

Tony Michaels:
Yes, he did. He flew over the river.

Chuck Gaidica:
That’s right. And Chilly Willy was found, we should point out, right in some corn field or something.

Tony Michaels:
Yes.

Chuck Gaidica:
But there have been those years where I’ve seen those folks trying to navigate the balloons or the big heads.

Tony Michaels:
Oh yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
And it’s quite a feat.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. We can get the balloons down Woodward below 25 miles an hour in wind. When it gets over 25, we’ve got some big decisions to make.

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh, interesting.

Tony Michaels:
And also, if there’s rain, the big heads can not go down Woodward because their paper mache.

Chuck Gaidica:
Right.

Tony Michaels:
And last year, the saddest call I ever made when the rain was coming down, was no big heads. So all those great people who paid the 250 to be a big head, they went down Woodward together without the big head on and had a blast. And we can’t thank them enough.

Chuck Gaidica:
So three miles of a parade route, any idea how many calories I would burn or you would burn if we did the route just one time?

Tony Michaels:
Probably over 300, I would think.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. I’m taking a guess.

Chuck Gaidica:
No, but you’ve done it how many years?

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, I think it’s right around there.

Chuck Gaidica:
When the parade happens and you know that your team has got everything in place, you’ve staged the night before, it looks like we’re ready to go. Do you find yourself staying in one place or you get antsy, you got to go somewhere?

Tony Michaels:
Well, I can tell you this. Wednesday, I keep getting calls. Okay, we’ve got these floats in place. So I run down there. I go down Wednesday late at night, because I just want to make sure that everything is good, all the guys are good. I always take a million bowls of soup for all our great artists who’re there fixing things that might have gotten damaged on the way down. So I’m the soup man. And I meet with security. We make sure everything’s good and there’s enough security around all those floats. And then I try to get three or four hours of sleep, which is really hard to do.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
It is. I mean, the next day is so big and the anxiety is pretty brutal, but it’s all good.

Chuck Gaidica:
But you are the biggest kid in the candy store then, right? I mean, you’re able to see every single widget, nut and bolt and everything.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. And then the parade itself, early in the morning, I’m zipping all around. I go say hello to the S3 Turkey Trot Team that’s getting that off at 7:30. I do stop in the roll call with the Detroit police to thank them. Amazing what they do with us and for us and for the city of Detroit. Go in there and all those officers during roll call and just saying thank you. I mean, it’s something I have to do every year.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah, that’s awesome.

Tony Michaels:
And then after all the interviews and everything, I settle into the TV zone and I’ve got my texting going. I’m not a walkie-talkie guy.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
There’s too much noise going on in the walkie-talkie with all the whole team, so I’m a texter and everything comes through on time and in a wonderful way, and we’re good to go. We’ve had one big event a few years back, if you could recall, Nolan Finley, our dear friend, told me I want to drive a float. Said, okay. The float stalled. He got blamed for driving the float into the crowd. He did not. It stalled. And some of our volunteers, great people, rolled it off of Woodward, but it happened to jump over the curb a little bit. But all good, all good. One person was slightly injured, but we’re all good. Nolan, to this day said, I cannot believe that happened. I said, relax, we’re all good. But those are little tidbits about the parade through the years.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, yeah. And then Larned and Congress, the balloons duck, come under the people mover and you start making the turn to take them all back.

Tony Michaels:
Oh yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
When does the actual planning begin for next year?

Tony Michaels:
The next Monday.

Chuck Gaidica:
Does it really?

Tony Michaels:
We literally meet on that Monday because this is such a massive undertaking. And don’t forget, we also do the Ford fireworks. We do Hob Nobble Gobble presented by Ford. We do the S3 Turkey Trot and America’s Thanksgiving parade presented by Gardner White. It’s a lot. We start that Monday and then Tuesday is everyone stay out of here, and then come and go as you please that week. And then we’re back and running.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
We’re back. You have to be. You’ve got to get everything cranked back up again because it’s such a massive…

Chuck Gaidica:
And I know you get touches from across America from other people who are looking to do any number of things. They just want a piece of styrofoam sculpture for something they’re doing. And you guys are the experts.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. And for the Indie 500 Festival, we did three of their floats.

Chuck Gaidica:
Did you?

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, we did. It was great. They were smaller, but it was wonderful. There’s a surprise coming on the Blue Cross float this year.

Chuck Gaidica:
There is?

Tony Michaels:
There is. Have you seen the pinwheel?

Chuck Gaidica:
I’ve not seen it yet.

Tony Michaels:
The pinwheel’s great. We built the pinwheel. Kenny Hayward called and said, can you guys make a pinwheel? And I said, no. I said… of course. I said, yes. And I know that that’s in support of the Children’s Trust, with neglected and battered children and so on. And Dan got behind it in such a big way and Blue Cross did. And so we’re so proud to have that pinwheel up on that awesome Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan float.

Chuck Gaidica:
And still some Blue Cross folks walking with it.

Tony Michaels:
Absolutely. Yeah. Which is so neat, it really is.

Chuck Gaidica:
So in total, when you look at all the floats, you consider entries like the bands and all that? Or do you count floats?

Tony Michaels:
Like there’s 63 entries total.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
23, 24 floats, bands, all kinds of things happening. Yeah, it’s a big deal. And we’re limited because, look, it’s a two hour show.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure.

Tony Michaels:
You know this very well. Everything is timed to the second. There’s commercial breaks, we have to hold the parade right at Grand River. And then we get the green lights, start moving it as they’re coming out of commercial break. The people live there might complain sometimes because it kind of stopped for two minutes, but you got to pay the bills. And WDIV does such an amazing job, it’s all timed out right to the second.

Chuck Gaidica:
You mentioned the artist who may come up and touch up a little place where maybe the corner got nicked, but you’ve also got mechanical issues. You’ve got moving parts on the floats, as well as a drivable chassis underneath.

Tony Michaels:
Yes. Well.

Chuck Gaidica:
What about maintenance?

Tony Michaels:
We did one good thing. I eliminated the drivable chassis underneath.

Chuck Gaidica:
Okay.

Tony Michaels:
I just felt the time had come for safety. And it’s hard to find float drivers who want to get underneath and get under that.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
I just wanted safety. I wanted people to want to do this, and it’s worked out great. So we have one left. Santa Claus is driven underneath.

Chuck Gaidica:
Is that it?

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, that’s it. That’s it.

Chuck Gaidica:
But that’s the iconic with the spiral staircase and the…

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s a toughie. That’s a toughie.

Chuck Gaidica:
I’ll bet.

Tony Michaels:
And then the rest, Yeah, we have animation, music coming out. I’d be a liar to say that we didn’t have a problem here and there with a certain float, especially in the rain. We had a tough year last year, some of the music didn’t want to blurt out and so on, but we’re all over it. We’re on top of it. And those guys are up and down Woodward, those guys and gals, and they’re ready to rock and fix anything we need to fix. This year you’re going to see some new touches. You’re going to see more video screens than you’ve ever seen before on floats. Really cool stuff.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, we’ve gotten to the point in the world where you can get these LED screens to do all kinds of stuff. And so is that cool, because that’s artistic design all by itself, right?

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. You’re going to see some things.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
We don’t want to go too high tech, this is grassroots. But I just thought a touch here and there is going to be something, a real wow factor. And if we keep bringing the wow factor, we keep this thing relevant every year. Innovative, relevant.

Chuck Gaidica:
So when you look at your future with The Parade Company, you’ve been doing this so long that, and not that you’re at the age where you need to think about giving this up, but I mean, do you ever look at your job as anything but a blessing? Because you’re involved in so many different iconic things, and I know there’s pressure in all that, but wow. I think of parade, I think of Tony Michaels.

Tony Michaels:
Well, thank you. It’s such a great team. It really is.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah.

Tony Michaels:
Honestly, I think that it’s, when I was offered this, my kids actually talked me into it and they said…

Chuck Gaidica:
Did they?

Tony Michaels:
Yeah. They said, Dad, you can make a difference in Detroit for a bunch of people if you make this better and great. And I sat back and my wife said, yeah. So that’s how it really all came about. Of course, I had to be offered the job first, but I was, and yeah, you’re able to make a difference. And when you see the kids’ faces, as you know better than anybody, it is magical that morning because those kids are able to see celebrities, floats, just bands. For some of them, this could be the one time in a year, the one time, for others might be able to do more and so on, it’s one of those great moments. But as I said earlier, it’s our job to make it bigger, better, and bolder and just more lovable every year.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, I think you’ve done such a super job with that, and I’m looking forward to seeing this year and the Grand Marshalls, that’s always a joy to see somebody who’s come in from across the nation to be part of the parade.

Tony Michaels:
Well, we have a big announcement coming, big announcement on the Grand Marshall. Yeah. Jalen Rose.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow.

Tony Michaels:
Jalen Rose. I can tell you now, yes, Jalen Rose is our Grand Marshall, along with Co-Grand Marshall, Reverend Wendell Anthony.

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh, that’ll be great.

Tony Michaels:
Yeah, So it should be really, really great.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. Well, it’s good to see you.

Tony Michaels:
It’s great to see you.

Chuck Gaidica:
And I’ll be looking for you there in the crowd by Broadcast Row, which is always the spot that I would see you there.

Tony Michaels:
I’m the bald head.

Chuck Gaidica:
Tony Michaels president and CEO of The Parade Company. Thanks for the insights. That was fun.

Tony Michaels:
Well, thank you for having me. This is great.

Chuck Gaidica:
Sure thing. Hey, we’re glad you were listening to A Healthier Michigan podcast. It’s brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. If you like the show, you want to know more, please check out all of our old episodes, new episodes, we’re heading toward a new year as well. It’s at ahealthiermichigan.org/podcast. You can leave us a reviewer rating on Apple Podcast or Spotify. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and get the new episodes you like, take them with you on your walks, when you’re going out to work off the Turkey. Smartphone, tablet, whatever it is, you can subscribe to us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.
On behalf of Tony, The Parade Company, have a happy and a healthy Thanksgiving.