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Nov. 17, 2008
CONTACT: Ward Mullens
Ward Mullens@emich.edu 734.487.4400

Eastern Michigan University, The Parade Co. to celebrate Thanksgiving together; partnership helps make America's Thanksgiving Parade educational for kids

YPSILANTI — Watching America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wander down Woodward Avenue is part of the holidays for many area residents.

This year, some Eagles will be part of the Nov. 27 event, usually reserved for birds of a different feather.

The appearance of the EMU Marching Band in the parade marks the first time in EMU’s history that it has participated in the parade. It will be the only University marching band in the parade.

“This is a great way to support EMU and a great opportunity for our band,” said John Zastoupil, EMU’s marching band director.

The band will be at the head of the parade and will perform the EMU Fight Song and the theme from the Superman movie.

Television coverage begins at 10 a.m. on WDIV Channel 4. Zastoupil said that EMU will be on TV at 10:03 a.m. according to parade schedulers.

The appearance of the EMU Marching Band is part of a collaboration between EMU and The Parade Company, based in Detroit.

“The Parade Company came to us with an idea to add an education component to the tour of their studio,” said Ted Coutilish, associate vice president of marketing and communications. “They wanted help creating curriculum that would comply with the new standards set down by the Michigan Department of Education and we are in a position to help them. As part of the agreement, our band was invited to play in the parade.”

While the state does not have field trip or location requirements, many schools are required by their districts to ensure all field trips have educational value and are aligned to state standards.

The task of creating curriculum was the responsibility of Brigid Beaubien, professor of education at EMU.

“We toured The Parade Company facilities and looked at what they did. We looked at the different floats and created lessons for before and after the field trip; and tied it into the curriculum standards,” Beaubien said.

Beaubien said there was a wealth of opportunities within the company and that the challenge was narrowing them down to what was needed.

“They have a float called  “It’s a Michigan Thing.”  One of the components of the float was a representation of the Mackinac Bridge. You can look at the history of the bridge and tie that to social studies and literacy standards the state mandates for second-, third- and fourth-graders.”

Beaubien said the lessons she created will be online next fall so that teachers can pick and choose what they want.

“Teachers will click on an icon of a float and there will be five lessons and additional lesson extensions for them to use,” Beaubien said. “They’re educational and it’s fun.”

The Michigan Thanksgiving Parade, now known as America’s Thanksgiving Parade, was founded in 1924.  For more than 75 years, The parade has been a one-of-a-kind spectacle of fantasy, holiday spirit and community enthusiasm.  The parade has grown to include more than 75 parade units, including floats, balloons and marching bands in procession.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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