The Milwaukee Holiday Parade begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21.

Now in its 83rd year, the parade that helps kick off the holiday seasons in Milwaukee features approximately 100 units and will take about 1-1/2 hours to pass a given point. It’s free, of course, to attend, and once again parade organizers have purchased TV time so it will also be covered live on Channel 6.

The route begins on Kilbourn Avenue and Astor Street, continues west to Old World 3rd Street where it turns left and continues south to Wisconsin Avenue. The parade officially ends in front of The Shops of Grand Avenue on the corner of Old World 3rd Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

According to parade organizers, this year’s parade theme, Give the Gift of Knowledge, Open the “Presents” of Mind, aims to emphasize the importance of education and providing kids with a gift that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Approximately 300 volunteers will collect non-perishable food donations along the parade route to benefit Hunger Task Force’s Food for Families.

“These days, it can be challenging to learn under the best of circumstances, imagine trying to pay attention to your teacher if you hadn’t eaten since yesterday,” said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of Hunger Task Force.

“For too many of our neighbors and their kids, skipping meals is a daily problem, especially in the cold winter months. Thankfully, Milwaukeeans are there to help out their own, and donating food at the Holiday Parade is a fun tradition for the whole family.”

Parade spectators are encouraged to donate generously, especially evaporated milk, peanut butter, canned fruits and juices.

This parade has been kicking off Milwaukee’s holiday season since 1927, when Schuster’s Department Store first started the tradition. Since then, floats, marching bands and, of course, Santa Claus, has helped make this the parade of the season.

Watch Milwaukee Holiday Parade 2009!