WILLMAR — This Thursday, look for the Jennie-O Turkey Store float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, airing 9 a.m. to noon on NBC. This is the second year the Willmar-based turkey producer will be represented in the annual parade.

The Willmar-based turkey producer made its parade debut to a noticeably smaller pandemic crowd during 2020, and hopes that this year will be well-attended. In addition, Jennie-O's parade entry is a partnership with entertainer Tai Verdes, who will perform his hit single "A-OK" from aboard the float.

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Nicole Behne, vice president of marketing for Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar, was one of the main voices advocating for the business' inclusion in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2020. Jennie-O will have a float in the annual parade for the second year in a row. Contributed / Jennie-O Turkey Store
Nicole Behne, vice president of marketing for Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar, was one of the main voices advocating for the business' inclusion in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2020. Jennie-O will have a float in the annual parade for the second year in a row. Contributed / Jennie-O Turkey Store
"This is our second year in the Macy's (Thanksgiving) Day parade, and I can't even believe it but it's the 95th Macy's (Thanksgiving) Day parade this year," said Nicole Behne, vice president of marketing at Jennie-O. "And only year two that they've had a turkey company in the parade, which blew my mind when they came here to Jennie-O two years ago."

The parade, which began in 1924 and has been an annual New York City tradition since then, features oversized character balloons, floats and live performances. Jennie-O leapt at the opportunity to be in the parade, and a gold and green turkey was built in the Macy's Parade Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey, in time for its November 2020 debut.

Verdes is among several other notable entertainers to be featured in the 2021 parade, a lineup that includes The Cast and Muppets of "Sesame Street," Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Grammer and Nelly, in addition to the Broadway casts of "Six," "Moulin Rouge!" and "Wicked."

"What says Thanksgiving more than the Macy's (Thanksgiving) Day Parade?" Behne said. "But there's never been another turkey company in the parade, and so we thought that would be a great way for us to get people to think about Jennie-O and be a part of their family traditions."

Willmar-based Jennie-O Turkey Store will have a float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City for the second year in a row. The turkey-shaped float is painted gold, and features a giant turkey with two chicks hiding beneath its hat. Contributed / Jennie-O Turkey Store
Willmar-based Jennie-O Turkey Store will have a float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City for the second year in a row. The turkey-shaped float is painted gold, and features a giant turkey with two chicks hiding beneath its hat. Contributed / Jennie-O Turkey Store
And, if people aren't stuffed too full of turkey and all the good food that accompanies it, don't forget about the Jennie-O dance challenge for the entire family: The Jennie-O Turkey Dance, created in partnership with Phil Wright and World of Dance, which can be found online at tiktok.com/@jennieobrand.

"Along with Tai being our performer, and the launch of our turkey dance, #dotheJennieOturkeydance, we hope to have a really fantastic presence on TikTok this year and start to create some fun memories and viral fun with people all over America doing this Jennie-O turkey dance at the Thanksgiving tables and really having fun with dancing and with creating a new tradition with Jennie-O," Behne said.

Willmar-based Jennie-O Turkey Store will have a float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City for the second year in a row. Contributed / Jennie-O Turkey Store
Willmar-based Jennie-O Turkey Store will have a float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City for the second year in a row. Contributed / Jennie-O Turkey Store

For more information about the Macy's annual parade, visit macys.com/social/parade. For more information about Jennie-O, visit jennieo.com.