2021 Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

Volunteer Opportunities

Application Deadline:  October 15, 2021

Thank you for your interest in Volunteering for the 2021 Chicago Thanksgiving Parade!  Volunteering for the Parade is a great way to kick off the holiday season.  We welcome individuals, families, groups, and students looking to fulfill community service requirements.  Check-in time for Volunteers can be as early as 4:00 a.m. on parade morning, with most Volunteers checking in around 6:00 a.m.  Most Volunteers are finished around 11:30 a.m., with some positions requiring Volunteers to be onsite until around 1:00 p.m.  Please be aware that the Parade is a rain, shine, or snow event, so please dress for the weather and come prepared to have a great time! Each Volunteer Application must have a unique email address.  Our system will reject a volunteer application submitted with an email address used on a previously submitted application.  To Volunteer, you must be 12-years of age on or before November 25, 2021, be in good health, and be able to be outdoors on parade day for an extended time.  If you are 17-years of age or under as of November 25, 2021, you must have a parent or legal guardian digitally sign your Volunteer Application. To be a Balloon Handler or on the Hospitality Committee, you must be at least 18-years of age on or before November 25, 2021. 

  1. Tech Crew and Street Painting Committees have been combined.  If you have previously volunteered for Street Painting, please sign-up for Tech Crew.  Tech Crew report time is 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 24.
  2. Parade Ambassadors and Merchandise Committees have been combined.  If you have previously volunteered for the Merchandise Committee, please sign-up for Parade Ambassadors.
  3. Staging and Unit Liaisons Committees have been combined.  If you have previously volunteered as a Unit Liaison, please sign-up for the Staging Committee.
  4. Hospitality and VIP Green Room Committees have been combined.  If you have previously volunteered for the VIP Green Room, please sign-up for the Hospitality Committee.
  5. The Staged Performance Green Room is now part of the Staging Committee. If you want to volunteer for the Staged Performance Green Room, please sign-up for Staging.  Please note that if you are assigned to the Staged Performance Green Room, your report time is 4:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.

2021 Chicago Thanksgiving Parade Volunteer Opportunities


Ever wonder how a big, blue, 70-foot Cookie Monster makes his way up State Street? Help keep the balloons flying high as you maneuver 3,600 cubic feet of helium under the El tracks and up the parade route. Must be 18 years of age as of November 25, 2021.


Smile and wave as you lead the way by carrying a banner up the parade route. Who knows, you might even make your television debut! You will walk between 2 and 4 miles the day of the event and are required to wear khaki pants on parade day.


Are you always on time? Then we need you to help keep the parade on track. Block Marshals are stationed at every block to maintain the speed and spacing of units as they march up State Street. Block Marshals communicate with step-off, TV Zone, and parade participants to achieve perfect parade timing.


Where do all the participants go at the end of the Parade route? Are you assertive and work well under pressure?  Disband volunteers get units to their appropriate disband area and keep the TV Zone from backing up.


Do you want to volunteer but can’t be with us on parade day?  Be part of the Gift Bag Stuffing Team!  Volunteers gather to put donated items into Gift Bags that are distributed to Parade Volunteers and Parade VIPs.  Gift Bag Stuffing takes place Saturday, November 13, 2021, at HI Chicago, 24 E. Ida B. Wells Dr.


Calling all social butterflies! Our Hospitality volunteers ensure our VIP guests have a great experience by scanning tickets, assisting with food service, crowd control, and clean-up. You also get to experience a fantastic view of the Parade from the VIP section. Must be 18 years of age as of November 25, 2021.


Get a chance to see the parade up close! Our Parade Ambassadors help ensure our on-street spectators have a great time and assist in keeping everyone safe.  You will also help pass out goodies to the crowd and distribute gift bags at the end of the parade.  Hundreds of thousands of spectators and your fellow volunteers will appreciate your efforts!


Join the Poo Crew, our equestrian waste removal squad, and receive the loudest cheers on the route! Always a crowd favorite, Poo Crew teams will be assigned to equestrian units to keep the parade route sparkling. Grab friends or family and make a Poo Crew of your own.


Get the parade off on the right foot! Our Staging volunteers are the first to greet Parade participants. Check-in parade units and direct them to their staging location. Then get ready to keep the parade on track by monitoring, directing, and ushering participants to the integration area and into the correct marching order.


Behind the scenes heroes! Help set up and tear down the parade, including the VIP area, bleacher seating, dasher wall, Street Painting, and much more. By making the parade route ready for the hundreds of thousands of street-side spectators and millions of viewers at home, you’ll be setting the stage for a memorable event!  Tech Crew volunteers must be in good physical health, be able to lift boxes and move equipment, and understand this is a rain or shine position.  Report time is 8:00 p.m., Wednesday night, November 24.


Are you a morning person?  If so, Volunteer Check-In is the place for you! Volunteer Check-In members will be responsible for checking in and checking out volunteers, helping with the volunteer breakfast, and distributing volunteer gift bags.  Report time is 4:00 a.m.

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