417 Magazine: What is your role with the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Ashley Berry: This year I'm the on the street reporter or roving reporter—I'll be part of the three person broadcast team. The two main co-hosts are stars of the upcoming film, B&B Merry on Great American Family Network. They'll be the main hosts and I'll be supporting them [by] talking to parade participants and people attending the parade. I'll also be handling all the live, day-of social media for the parade.
417: How many years have you been doing this?
A.B.: This is my second year. Last year myself and a co-host were the two anchors. It was the first year after the COVID break. It was kind of a hurried, hastily put together effort to get last year's parade to happen. This year [there] was a lot more planning and foresight to get the parade back to its original scale.
417: How did you get started with the parade?
A.B.: I have always watched the Chicago Thanksgiving parade while I'm home cooking Thanksgiving dinner… Last year there was a post made on their social media accounts that unfortunately, due to contract negotiations, the parade would not be streamed on television… I sent a message to the parade creators and said, ‘Hey, I think there's a space for you in online streaming. I love the parade—we love watching from Missouri [and] I hope that you'll be able to find a way to make this happen. And if we can help, let us know.’ By we, I mean my husband and I. He owns a streaming company that streams dirt track racing events called Race and Dirt. We were really familiar with live streaming of events and I just thought it was sad that this parade wouldn't be broadcast.
And oddly enough, they messaged me back, asked some questions and we connected them with some friends in the Chicago area that work in production. [We] started piecing things together and before I knew it, I was helping plan the parade.
And then about 10 days ahead of last year's parade I asked if there were any other needs and they said, ‘Actually, we need someone to host. Would you be interested?’ And so I did! I said yes, and I went, and that's how it all kind of happened. It was crazy and sporadic. I just genuinely wanted to help them make sure that the parade was broadcast for people to watch.