Volunteer Positions

For more information about how your corporation, organization or other group can get involved, please call the Chicago Festival Association at 312-239-0457 or email volunteer@chicagofestivals.org.

Volunteer Opportunities are available for:
Parade School – Saturday, November 4, 2017
Gift Bag Stuffing – Saturday, November 18, 2017
Street Painting – Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Street Painting – Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Parade Day – Thursday, November 23, 2017 (Thanksgiving Day)

All volunteer applicants must be at least 12 years of age as of Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

PARADE SCHOOL VOLUNTEER
Help us set-up volunteer training for hundreds of our volunteers. You can help greet volunteers as they check-in, guide volunteers to the parking facilities, check-in the volunteers or just be an extra set of hands at Parade School! This volunteer position is for Saturday, November 4, 2017.

GIFT BAG STUFFING VOLUNTEER
We thank our volunteers and VIPs by giving each and every one of them a gift bag at the end of the parade! Help us stuff 2,500 gift bags with sponsor items to create a wonderful thank you gift! This volunteer position is for Saturday, November 18, 2017.

STREET PAINTING VOLUNTEER
Join us out on State Street, that Great Street Tuesday and/or Wednesday night before the Parade to help set the stage for the NATIONALLY TELEVISED McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade! We paint State Street from Randolph to Washington a flat black to set a canvas for the television broadcast. This volunteer position is for both Tuesday, November 21 and Wednesday, November 22, 2017. (Weather Dependent)

“It’s amazing that you literally transform a historic section of the city. You can definitely notice your work on the television broadcast – the logo we paint just pops out.”
— Dan Mulka, Past Staff of Chicago Festival Association

Parade Day Volunteer Opportunities – Thursday, November 23, 2017 (Thanksgiving Day)

ALL PARADE DAY VOLUNTEERS MUST ATTEND PARADE SCHOOL ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2017.

To be a balloon handler or a part of VIP / hospitality, you must be at least 18 years of age as of Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

BALLOON HANDLER
You have seen these volunteers having fun as they guide a 70-foot Cookie Monster up State Street, now you can have just as much fun. Sign up to be a Balloon Handler – this position fills up quicker than all of the others! Please note that you may be handling a cold-air inflatable or a helium inflatable. Must be 18 years of age as of November 22, 2017.

“There is just something amazing about the giant balloons.  Volunteering on the balloon crew puts a permanent smile on your face, as well as the faces of the children and adults having a great time at the parade.”
— John Hipolito, Volunteer Balloon Committee Vice-Chairperson

BANNER CARRIER
Banner Carriers get to be IN the parade!  Smile, wave, and (along with a partner) showcase one of our sponsor’s logos for the hundreds of thousands of spectators.  You will walk just over a mile and must wear khaki pants on parade day.  Have to look good for everyone!

“You get to actually be a part of the parade!  It’s really cool that as you carry a sponsorship banner, you know that you’re beeing seen by millions watching on the street or at home on TV.”
— Ezzie Velasco, Volunteer Banner Carrier Committee Chairperson

BLOCK MARSHALS
Work directly with all the bands, cheer groups, and other units to keep the parade moving on time.  Marshals are stationed at every block communicating with parade participants, volunteers, and our TV crew to ensure a seamless production.

“Want the best view of the parade? Become a Block Marshal! Block Marshal’s have the very important job of keeping the parade going at the right pace. In addition to this, they keep people watching the parade safe on the sidewalks, and best of all, they get to see the entire parade.”
— Kristine Borcz, Past Volunteer Block Marshal Committee Chairperson

DISBAND
One of the most important roles in the parade, help guide parade participants from the TV zone to their loading area.  You will be right in the heart of all the action, making sure that TV zone remains clear for a fabulous broadcast.

“We have a crucial role in the parade.  With the parade being on live TV, we have to make sure that each of the participants make their way from the TV Zone to their unloading area.  Can’t have a back-up during live TV now!”
— Perri Nyberg, Past Volunteer Disband Committee Chairperson

MERCHANDISE
At events, the most popular person is handing out giveaways!  You get to be that person!  Hand out goodies and coupons to the hundreds of thousands of people watching the parade on State Street.  At the conclusion of the parade, help distribute goodie bags to fellow volunteers!

“If you are a people person, you will love being a merchandise volunteer.  Not only will you get to meet a lot of people, the fact that you are handing out some really great stuff means that people will be looking for you!”
— Ellen Melo, Volunteer Merchandise Committee Chairperson

PARADE AMBASSADORS
Get a chance to see the parade up close! Our parade ambassadors help to ensure our on-street spectators are having a great time and assist in keeping everyone safe. Hundreds of thousands of spectators will appreciate your efforts.

“Chatting with some of the parade spectators as the parade goes down the route is a great experience. You can feel the excitement that this parade brings them. Being able to help create a safe environment for family’s watching the parade is something I will never forget.”
— Brittany Johnson, Chicago Festival Association

POO CREW
Join the 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.

“Being a Poo Crew Volunteer is much more than the obvious job duties.  You get to really ham it up, decorate your cart, and have a ton of fun being a focal point in the parade.  It’s about fun, and nobody has more fun than us.”
— Cathy Mitchel, Past Volunteer Poo Crew Committee Co-Chairperson

STAGING
We need you to help kick off the parade in the right fashion.  Direct parade groups to their proper positions, ensure everyone gets in the right order, and help control the flow of the parade to get everything started off smoothly.

“Members of staging help keep the ‘pre-parade’ area ready for the start of the parade. By taking part in this volunteer position you have the opportunity to meet a variety of performers behind the scenes, and assist in getting them into the correct order for their big performance.”
— Christine Bromley, Previous Volunteer Staging Committee Co-Chair

TECH CREW
If you like seeing how things work behind-the-scenes, the Tech Crew is right for you!  Help us set up the VIP area, volunteer check-in and more.  Work with our street painting crew to literally paint our logo on State Street.   Set the stage for Chicago’s Parade!

“It’s fun getting to see your work in the parade, as plain as day.  Whether you help set-up the dasher wall, help on the painting crew, or anything else, you can say ‘I did that.’.”
— Keith Johnson, Volunteer Tech Crew Committee Chair

UNIT LIAISONS
Work directly with a performance group to make sure they are ready to showcase their talents!  Show them where to go, tell them when to go, and accompany them throughout the entire parade.

“Working with the Block Marshals and the different performance groups, you get to see the parade as a bigger picture.  When everyone works together, and the unit liasion is a crucial part of this, its makes the parade world-class.”
— Robert Hilliard, Unit Liaisons

VIP/HOSPITALITY
Calling all social butterflies! Our hospitality committee hosts our VIP guests by assisting with food service, clean-up, ticket collection and crowd control. You also get to experience a fantastic view of the Parade from the VIP section. Must be 18 years of age as of November 22, 2017.

“You’re part of it all.  Making sure the VIP’s get into the TV Zone as efficient as possible, helping to make sure the food is ready for them, and getting the crowd riled up for three hours of amazing performances.  You get to see it all too, including the first-hour performances that only take place in the TV Zone.”
— Fannie Mance, Past Volunteer VIP / Hospitality Committee Co-Chair and Inspiration of the Volunteer of the Year Award

VOLUNTEER CHECK-IN/COMMAND CENTER
Chicago’s Parade depends on you!  Greet and check in over 1,000 volunteers and make sure their day starts off with a smile.  You will also help with our volunteer breakfast and gift bag distribution.

“Volunteer Check-in Volunteers give their time and services to greet 99% of the volunteers for this awesome event. You will meet and assist a wide variety of people on parade day. Not only that, but you have the opportunity to develop skills in customer service, leadership, communication and much more.”
— Nancy Wright-Redeaux, Past Volunteer Check-In Committee Co-Chair