Bob Darket, a retired 34 year DTE Energy Employee

Reflections on 90th America’s Thanksgiving Parade

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This guest post is from Bob Darket, a retired 34 year DTE Energy Employee

For many years, the DTE Energy Foundation has supported the America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit on Woodward Avenue.  For the 90th anniversary parade, the Foundation unveiled a brand new float constructed depicting DTE’s commitment to “Caring for Our Environment” in Michigan and across the USA.  The new float featured an 18-foot-canoe on one of Michigan’s many waterways, a wind turbine, an American Bald Eagle and a DTE employee volunteer planting a tree in the right place.

For me, personally, participating in the parade was a form of repayment to the City of Detroit, and the past parade volunteers for the numerous times I watched the parade as a young boy.  My mother and uncle would take our two families to the city to view the parade in person.  So when the opportunity arose to participate in the parade, I couldn’t pass up the chance. This was the eighth time that I was able to participate in the parade representing DTE.  In fact, my parade marching continues even though I retired from the company after 34 years of service.

DTE’s parade organizer, Chuck Asberry, who is part of DTE’s Major Enterprise Projects, has the DTE volunteer-costumed marchers begin the process in October by gathering for the first costume fitting – this year we had almost 40 volunteers dressed as environmental conservationists to complement our new float.  The real excitement begins when we arrive on Thanksgiving morning at the campus of Wayne State University.

All of the costumed marchers arrive at the Parade Company costuming area usually between 6 and 7 a.m. After donning our costumes, we proceed to the make-up area and have our faces painted in a festive way to match the occasion and costume.  Then, we gather on Woodward Avenue to eagerly anticipate the start of the parade.   While we wait excitedly on Woodard, the atmosphere is charged and it feels like a giant block party.  The dignitaries, police officers, volunteers and all parade participants are in a festive mood and have a wonderful time mingling with each other and the crowds of people who have come to Detroit to watch the parade.

For me, the greatest part of the parade is interacting with all of the people lining the sides of Woodward Avenue, especially the kids.  It’s about the kids and watching the excitement on their faces.  We all enjoy representing the City of Detroit and DTE in a positive manner.  I truly believe that without the support of good corporate community citizens such as the DTE Energy Foundation, DTE Energy and the many volunteers, the parade would not go on.

Let’s hope the tradition continues for another 90 years.