CMU Alumnus to celebrate 75 consecutive years attending America's Thanksgiving Parade

Gordie Richardson will honor occasion by riding on CMU float

| Author: Jason Fielder | Media Contact: Jason Fielder

In a heartwarming story spanning over seven decades, a Central Michigan University alumnus will celebrate attending his 75th consecutive America's Thanksgiving Parade, marking an incredible milestone in his family's longstanding tradition.

To honor the occasion, Gordon "Gordie" Richardson (Class of '72) and his wife, Anne, will ride on the CMU float during the parade.

"The opportunity to celebrate my 75th parade and share it with CMU people is an opportunity I couldn't pass up," Richardson said. "Can there be a better group of people to celebrate with than a group of CMU Chippewas? I don't think so."

Richardson was born and raised in Detroit and went to his first America's Thanksgiving Parade when he was four months old. He says his parents took him to every parade until his late teens/early 20s when he began to go on his own, usually with other family members. Later, he'd attend each parade with his wife.

"Getting to the parade became a labor of love and something I still enjoy immensely," Richardson said. "But there were a couple of years where I had to kick myself in the rear to get up and get going. The mornings when temperatures were near zero were tough."

Richardson's favorite parade memory was in 1998 when he attended his 50th consecutive America's Thanksgiving Parade. To commemorate the achievement, Anne worked tirelessly to secure The Parade Company's permission to use their Clownie logo on a memorial jacket. The Parade Company's advertising group, MarxLayne, granted them permission, and the company's historian gave Anne the symbol used in the Hudson's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1949.

A man wearing a blue letterman's jacket, blue winter hat, and winter gloves poses in front of the Big Bird balloon at America's Thanksgiving Parade.
Gordie Richardson wears his custom 50th-anniversary jacket during America's Thanksgiving Parade.

Richardson was also featured in numerous Detroit area newspaper articles and interviewed on Detroit TV stations. He walked in the parade that year and enjoyed the local celebrity treatment.

"I was stopped on multiple occasions to pose with parade goers who found my story remarkable and wanted a selfie picture with me, although we didn't refer to them as such at the time," he said.

Richardson has since proudly worn his unique 50th-anniversary jacket during each Thanksgiving week and to every parade.

A man wearing a blue letterman's jacket, blue winter hat, and winter gloves poses with Clownie at America's Thanksgiving Parade.
Gordie Richardson poses with Clownie, the mascot, during America's Thanksgiving Parade.

Central Michigan University has played an integral role in Gordie's life since childhood, making it the natural choice for his college education. Gordie's father worked as an accountant, and part of his assignment every year was spending a week at CMU to do an audit for the university.

"We would spend this time living in the dorm mother's apartment in Barnard Hall or Robinson Hall the year it opened. I remember playing on the playground at the corner of Franklin and Bellows," Richardson says.

Gordie and Anne have been dedicated Chippewa Club members for nearly 40 years and continue to support CMU sports and cultural events. Their connections with CMU hold a special place in their hearts, and they look forward to many more years of involvement with the university.

"I made most of my lifelong friends at school," Richardson says. "And my other connections at Central are ones that Anne and I treasure. It has always been a friendly place to live and visit."

Now, there's a new treasured CMU memory on the horizon—one 75 years in the making.

Notes: The Richardsons reside in Gaylord, MI. Gordie is a retired teacher who worked in the Bloomfield Hills and Clarkston school districts. He spent 30 years in education and 29 years coaching three sports yearly. He currently works as a high school sports official.

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