Celebrating Thanksgiving with the family in the Sun City always means carving up a turkey and Dallas Cowboys football (love them or hate them) on the TV.
But, if you’re like approximately 250,000 other El Pasoans, you’ll also be starting the day lining Montana Avenue for this year’s Oscar Leeser’s Hyundai of El Paso Sun Bowl Parade.
Here’s six things to know about the longstanding tradition and how to best enjoy it:
1. NEW SPONSOR
Just as the Sun Bowl college football game got a g-rrrreat new title sponsor this year courtesy of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal, the 83rd edition of the Sun Bowl Parade is sponsored by Oscar Leeser’s Hyundai of El Paso.
“Oscar Leeser has always been a big supporter of the Sun Bowl Association,” Joe Daubach, special events director of the Sun Bowl Association, said about the former mayor who’s seeking re-election. “He wanted to step up this year and take over as the title sponsor and he did that, so we can’t thank him enough.”
The parade was previously sponsored by FirstLight Federal Credit Union. Hyundai of El Paso sponsored the Sun Bowl game for nine years before Kellogg’s took over this year and renamed it the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.
2. BOBBLEHEADS ON PARADE
The collectible dolls with oversized heads will come to life during this year’s parade, whose theme is Bobbleheads on Parade.
All of the floats entered this year will feature some type of bobblehead character, and you can definitely expect to see Tony the Tiger among the many colorful floats.
“It’s going to be a half a football and a cereal bowl and Tony the Tiger is going to be inside the cereal bowl,” said volunteer Tony Valtier in a promotional video. “That parade is going to be fun to see.”
The parade will also feature equestrian units, clowns, marching bands, drum and bugle corps units, dignitaries, and a wide variety of specialty units from traditional dancers to military ceremonial units.
3. OSCAR-NOMINATED GRAND MARSHAL
El Pasoan Ron Stallworth will lead the parade on Thanksgiving Day.
Stallworth’s book about his infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan as an African-American member of the Colorado Springs Police Department provided the basis for the Academy Award-nominated Spike Lee movie, “BlacKkKlansman” in 2018. The film received six nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor and winning for Best Adapted Screenplay.
“We have so many amazing people in El Paso with amazing stories and history, which always makes it a challenge to choose a grand marshal,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas. “But with the recent accomplishments by Mr. Stallworth, the decision was a bit easier.”
4. BEST SEATS AROUND
The Sun Bowl Parade kicks off at 10 a.m. near the corner of Montana Avenue and Ochoa Street and makes its way on Montana to Copia Street.
Depending on the weather, Daubach said, more than 250,000 people will attend.
Many people begin saving spots along the parade route in the wee hours, but if you’re looking for the best view, Daubach suggests purchasing a seat in the review stands at 1600 Montana in front of the Emergence Health Network offices. Parking will be available. Not only can you bring your own cushioned stadium chair and enjoy food vendors, there’s also private Port-a-Potties so you can drink all the hot chocolate you want to stay warm.
5. THANK VOLUNTEERS
The Sun Bowl Association enlists about 700 volunteers each year to make the parade run smoothly, including about 40 float builders and about 60 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who do all the clean up along the route when the parade is all said and done.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers, it’s become a tradition for them. We have families that have been voluneering for 40 years,” Daubach said.
“As soon as it’s over, members of the church start cleaning up and an hour later when all the traffic is gone, you wouldn’t even know a parade happened. They do a terrific job cleaning up after us and we all owe them thanks.”
6. HAVE FUN
The last tip could have been first because it’s the most important key to starting off your Thanksgiving in a memorable way with the family – have fun!
“When you leave the house, leave with the mentality that you’re going to have fun and share a wonderful day with the family,” Daubach said.
“Be patient. The road will be blocked off a block above and a block south of Montana, so park a bit off, and enjoy the walk in. Law enforcement will be there to make it safe and remember that you are there to give thanks and create memories.”