Kaylee Hopkins, 15, woke up early Saturday ready to march in the annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade in Silver Spring.
Hopkins, a sophomore at Blair High School in Silver Spring, said she was excited to march in the event she had prepared for months every Saturday since May.
“I’m very thankful for this unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, where people from different backgrounds that live in Montgomery County come together to celebrate diversity and community,” she said.
Hopkins, clad in a red and white suit representing her school colors, said she was nervous to march for 20 minutes.
Along with 10 other students from her school, they waited to perform Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” to represent the sense of thankfulness of Montgomery County being a “united and strong community,” Hopkins said.
Despite Saturday morning’s cold temperatures in the high 50s, attendees stood along the parade route with some drinking coffee or hot chocolate. County officials estimated approximately 10,000 attended the parade.
In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, the event promoted cultural diversity and community involvement. A truck featured in the parade was decorated with flags of Latin American countries and a sign that said “Agradecidos por nuestra diversidad” or “grateful for our diversity.”
“It is a great event that brings the community together for a day of celebration,” said County Executive Marc Elrich (D).
Alejandra Vasquez, from Silver Spring, wore a costume typical of her native Jalisco, Mexico to walk during the parade.
“I feel proud to show these people the beauty of my culture,” she said. “Thanksgiving is also an opportunity to show and express diversity.”
The parade lasted from 10 a.m. to noon and included the participation of several elementary and high schools from Montgomery County, marching bands, drum lines, floats, dance troupes, beauty queens and fire trucks.
Amberlyn Kelleher, head of the Brownie Girl Scout group from Highland View Elementary School in Silver Spring, said she was delighted to participate with the group of girls, all eight and nine, in an event that remerged after the pandemic and is an annual tradition.
“We are very excited to celebrate racial diversity because we have girls from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. My kids love to celebrate that,” she said.
The parade started at the intersection of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street, then moved south along Georgia Avenue, concluding at Silver Spring Avenue.