By Mike Krauser

CHICAGO (CBS) — A big and festive crowd lined State Street in the Loop for the annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The parade stepped off onto sunny skies on a brisk but bearable morning.

Marching bands, cultural acts, Ronald McDonald, Santa and the pirate Jack Sparrow all in attendance.

This is an all volunteer production and and the volunteers handling the giant inflatable characters say they have the best jobs.

Janet from Bartlett is a first timer handling Fred Flintstone.

“Well, I’ve never been a balloon handler in my life and I kind of freaked out because my brother told me to put weights on my leg because I might go in the air,” she says.

This is the 84th Thanksgiving parade that got its start during the Great Depression as a way to lift people’s spirits.

Watch & Listen LIVE