CMU's three-year partnership with America's Thanksgiving Parade costs $375,000

Central Michigan University debuts float in America’s Thanksgiving Parade on Nov. 25 in Detroit. Courtesy photo Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University made its debut in the America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit last month. It was the beginning of a $375,000 three-year partnership that includes the cost of the float and the university's participation.

The goal of the university’s involvement is to increase the visibility of CMU’s brand according to CMU Executive Director of Communications Heather Smith. The university is able to fund this partnership through its $1.3 million communications marketing budget. 

The CMU float is 100 feet long and 25 feet tall and was accompanied by 32 students, faculty, staff and alumni chosen by the university. The float depicted a diverse selection of degree programs offered at the university on Nov. 25.

The Thanksgiving Parade serves as a "platform to advertise the university and allows CMU to get more involved in the community," Smith said. 

The university's involvement in the parade is a part of a three-year partnership with The Parade Company – a Detroit-based non-profit founded in 1982 for the purpose of staging and promoting the Thanksgiving parade. 

There are 52,000 alumni who reside in the Detroit area, including Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. In 2019, about 30 percent of on-campus students were from southeast Michigan. 

 “The parade is a highly-visible platform to share CMU’s ‘We Do’ brand in a unique way and provides the opportunity to bolster CMU’s presence as a regional and national higher education destination,” Smith said.

The parade also served as an opportunity to engage with alumni. Alumni Relations arranged a separate “parade watching” event the morning of Thanksgiving in CMU’s Detroit office. Tickets for the event were $75 per adult and $60 per child under the age of 12. More than 140 people registered for the event.  

“In its first year, our participation gathered millions of impressions online and through social media, as well as extensive media coverage throughout Michigan and the country,” Smith said.