Share your fired-up attitude in this year’s Thanksgiving parade

Students, faculty, staff and alumni invited to march with CMU in Detroit

| Author: Ari Harris | Media Contact: Ari Harris

Last year, more than 70 million households in 185 media markets nationwide tuned in to watch America's Thanksgiving Parade® live from Detroit. And, for a third year, those viewers will experience a Fired-Up float from Central Michigan University.

CMU invites students, faculty, staff and alumni to apply to be part of the exciting day by registering to serve as marchers in the parade. Marchers proudly wear maroon and gold and walk alongside CMU’s float as it winds its way through Michigan’s Motor City.

“We are looking for CMU Chippewas who are passionate about our university to join in this celebration of Thanksgiving with us,” said Brittney Rudat, assistant director of Alumni Engagement. 

Rudat said marchers must be at least 16 years old and able to walk approximately 3 miles on the parade route. There also are periods of standing at the beginning and end of the parade.

This year, Rudat said marchers will be able to bring a friend or family member along with them as they march in the parade. Both individuals must be able to commit to joining CMU in Detroit on Thanksgiving morning for the duration of the parade.

Apply to march with CMU

All applications will be reviewed by a parade committee that includes student, faculty and staff representatives, as well as members from the Alumni Board, Rudat said. The deadline to apply is Monday, October 9.

Spotlight on CMU marchers

Nick Hussein

CMU faculty member Nick Hussein and his family prepare for the Thanksgiving parade.Nick Hussein, a faculty member from the Department of Marketing, Hospitality and Logistics, marched in the 2022 parade with his daughters while his wife and son watched from the grandstands at CMU’s Detroit Office.

“It was a truly memorable experience meeting some of our alumni and representing who we are as a university as we floated down Woodward Avenue,” he said. “I loved the energy and experience of shouting Fire Up and hearing people shout it back to us.”

Hussein said his extended family watched the parade on television, and they all talked about the experience as they enjoyed their Thanksgiving meal together later that afternoon.

“I found my ‘why’ that day when I was able to share the CMU culture with my family,” he said.


Donna Diggs

CMU graduate Donna Diggs and her dad, graduate John Diggs, pose next to the CMU parade float.Donna Diggs, who graduated from CMU in May 2023, was excited to use the parade to share her experiences at CMU with others.

“I wanted to walk in the parade because of how much I love CMU and everything it’s done for me. I’ve always been highly involved at Central. I love getting to share my experience with prospective students and letting them know about the amazing opportunities this school can provide,” Diggs said.

Diggs walked in the parade alongside her father, John Diggs. He graduated from CMU in 1983 and she graduated in 2023 – exactly 40 years apart. Diggs said her dad has always been a proud alumnus and was truly Fired Up to be in the parade.

“The best part of the day was watching my dad interact with the crowd. He was fully in his element running up and giving high fives, shouting ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’ and, during commercial breaks, he made a point to go up and have full conversations with families,” she said. “For him to get to share his experience with other alumni and reminisce about old memories — this was the best gift I could’ve ever given him.

A national audience for CMU

2023 marks the 97th anniversary of the parade, which is the second largest in the nation. Last year, it was named Best Holiday Parade in USA Today’s 2022 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards – an honor it also received in 2018 and 2019.

CMU alumnus Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company, said he was proud to see his alma mater featured on a national stage.

“Participating in the parade shines a huge national spotlight on CMU – on the students, faculty, staff and alumni, on the We Do brand, and on CMU’s commitment to Detroit and the state of Michigan,” Michaels said. “We are excited to help CMU reach prospective students and their families around the country and show them what it means to be Fired Up.”

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