Hazy   58.0F  |  Forecast »

Pops on Parade: Meet Dad Steve Abood

As the marketing guy behind America's Thanksgiving Parade and the Target Fireworks, this Clinton Township father of two makes magic his job!

This story appeared in the November 2011 print edition of Metro Parent.
Photos by Kristen Hines

First things first: Yes, Steve Abood has dressed up like a polar bear. He's personally met the real Santa several times. And walking through a sea of papier-mache heads and 15-foot floats every day never gets old.

For the guy in charge of all things promotional at The Parade Company – producers of America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit – unusual is normal.

"You never know what the day's gonna bring," says Abood. "It's definitely not your typical 9-to-5 job!" Not to mention, his 100,000 square-foot workplace is a Wonka-esque wonderland for his tykes, ages 6 and 3.

About Steve Abood

"They call it 'Clownie Work,'" after the company's iconic clown mascot. And they especially love that "Monkeys Jumping on a Bed" trampoline float.

Dad, truly a big kid himself, is also a whiz at making heavy-duty event planning and marketing look like a breeze – and floatloads of fun.

As you read this, he and his crew are putting in 80- to 90-hour workweeks to pull off the Nov. 24 spectacle on Woodward Avenue without a hitch. "Labor Day is kind of our D-Day," he quips. "Nobody takes anymore vacations."

Abood's tasks run the gamut from branding the company's image to rallying sponsors and coordinating media to setting up grandstands. And not just now: He also helms marketing for the July Target Fireworks, and 40 ancillary events.

"They're the two largest free events in the city," he says. And his job boils down to one simple thing: "Making sure everybody's having a good time."

He's definitely qualified. "Looking back," he says, "I've always been in some sort of event planning industry or frame of mind."

An on-the-go childhood set the pace. His dad's work in auto quality control moved the family from Lansing to Georgia to Florida to Texas. His older brother made pals through football. His younger sis also fell into friends fast. "Me, it was just going up to people saying, 'Hi, I'm Steve.'" Working on student council committees, especially dances, quickly became his forte.

Even earlier, he'd be the kid helping mom plan and cook meals. Or figuring out the vacation itinerary. Or finalizing details for grandma's birthday.

"I guess I always liked the parties," Abood says. "Fun in numbers is just more fun!" His parade work started with a three-month gig as a tour program contract work. Abood wrote himself into a full-time position – literally – when he pitched for the vacant marketing position.

"I kind of created my own job," he says. "They took me up on it."

Five years later, he's still loving it. Even though he seldom gets holidays off.

"It's the nature of parades," Abood says. "I tell my wife she's married to a doctor – just not the pay!" The pair met at Sam's Club, where they both worked while attending MSU (Sarah now handles HR at Nino Salvaggio).

Fittingly, their family's home in Clinton Township is always hopping, filled with game systems, books, DVDs, wagons, bikes – you name it.

"On the main level, there's not really a spot where you can just kind of sit," he says. "There's always something to do." Whether that's the kitchen, where Abood's often whipping up his own recipes with his kids help – or ruling one of the Dance Dance Revolution pads.

"Yes… I dance," Abood says, laughing. "I'm somewhat of an idiot." He's been known to tear things up at a Pitbull concert – and his weekly Zumba classes in Dearborn (he's been known to bust moves around coworkers, too).

And while life is busy, Abood plans special events for his kids, too, like taking his daughter to The Nutcracker, or a trek to Metro Beach Metropark with his son.

Steve's Favorites

For his family, the parade's become an annual tradition, too. And Abood is nearby. No, not dancing down Woodward (the bear costume was for a photo shoot), but rather, in "TV Zone," where he's pacing the parade for national broadcast.

"(We) speed up the parade a little bit if we need to, or stop it. It's down to the second." It's intense, he says, but "We've got a groove for it."

So, what time's he back for turkey dinner? Naturally, every year is different.

"Wait for me if you want, but it's not required," Abood always says. Though he's gotten savvy: "I've recruited more family members to become volunteers in the parade, so they're not just waiting for me to arrive!"

In this year's spectacle, dubbed "So Much to Believe In," Abood says to watch for four new floats. The family-geared Character Breakfast returns. And, of course, Santa will officially kick off the season.

"Every year we try to raise the bar, making the event always bigger, always better." For him, though, the biggest kick will always be simple.

"The kids, they're just smiling, saying 'That's my favorite; no that's my favorite!' – they can't make up their minds," Abood says. That's when "you know what you're doing is worthwhile."

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Carl Abramson and Kim Sarubbi mashed together their surnames for their first two kids, but Tennessee law says they can't use the last name 'Sabr' for baby No. 3.

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sophie Maletsky's new guide, published by Zest Books, is packed with fun crafts and DIY ideas kids and families can make out of colorful duct tape.

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

This versatile craft material transforms into an acorn fall creation, decorative ribbon, cute Japanese critters and cool dividers for your kid's closet.

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

Mealtime can turn from pleasant to panic in a matter of seconds. Protect your child from this mishap with our list of dos and don’ts.

YouTube Moms Parody Iggy Azalea's Hit Song 'Fancy'

YouTube Moms Parody Iggy Azalea's Hit Song 'Fancy'

The rapper's had the hit of the summer, but these clever mothers made it their own, riffing on pregnancy and motherhood in some pretty funny viral videos.

Biscuit Recipes: From Classic to Chocolate

Biscuit Recipes: From Classic to Chocolate

September is National Biscuit Month, but you can bake these any time! These recipes, including classic biscuits from Betty Crocker and cornmeal biscuits from Martha Stewart, will have you reaching...

Little One-Yard Wonders Book Review and Play Mat Project

Little One-Yard Wonders Book Review and Play Mat Project

Check out a new title that promises lots of sewing projects you can make for kids. Also, for the skilled seamstress, try one of its cool play-oriented patterns.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement