Learn about a Detroit Thanksgiving tradition

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published October 28, 2015


America’s Thanksgiving Parade expert Romie Minor stays very busy this time of year.

Although he hasn’t marched or handled balloons in the parade since 2001, Minor — an author, librarian and archivist for the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library — will talk about the history and what goes on behind the scenes at the parade at eight libraries in the coming weeks.

His first stop will be Nov. 2 at the Troy Public Library.

The presentation will include a behind-the-scenes look at America’s Thanksgiving Parade through historic photographs and anecdotes from the book he wrote with his wife, Laurie: “Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” published by Arcadia Publishing in the Images of America series. The book will be available for purchase at Barnes & Noble stores and may be brought to the event to be signed.

“Patrons watched that growing up,” Margaret Forrest, adult information librarian, said of the parade. “We’re excited to have him come.”

People are surprised to learn how much time and effort it takes for the Parade Company to put on the parade each year, Minor said.

Since 1999 he has been in the parade as a unit marshal, a costumed marcher and a balloon handler. He and his wife have taken photos of the parade for the Parade Company’s archives.

According to the Parade Company website, “the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation was founded in 1982 for the purpose of staging and perpetuating America’s Thanksgiving Parade.”

Minor is currently the assistant manager for the Special Collections Department at the Detroit Public Library. He is also the curator of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African-Americans in the Performing Arts at the Detroit Public Library.

He’s been doing talks about the parade since 2004 and has been a part-time employee of the Parade Company, which took over operation and funding of the parade from Hudson’s department store in the early 1980s.

“The original marchers (in 1924) were all paid Hudson’s employees,” he said.

“People really want to know how it’s put on, about the Parade Company and what they do year round,” Minor added. “I’ll talk about all the preparation and history of the parade.”

The program will be held 7-8 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Troy Public Library, 510 W. Big Beaver Road. Registration is required. Call (248) 524-3534 or visit troypl.org to register.