Let the Magic Begin: Ring in the
Holiday Season with Macy’s Spectacular High-flying Thanksgiving Day Parade
By: Ellis Nassour
It’s the parade that has everything: award-winning marching bands, performance groups, floats with celebrities galore on them, those famous giant helium balloons, and a very special guest, Santa Claus, decked out in his North Pole finest [as everyone
should be this year!]. Yes, of course, it has to be Macy’s Thanksgiving Day
Parade! There’s only one, and this year’s 90th Edition will be more spectacular, family friendly, and memorable than ever.
The Parade, “A Holiday Treat for Children Everywhere,” is a three-hour entertainment feast if you’re watching on NBC [with Today’s Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, and Al Roker hosting] before the turkey and yams hit the table. It begins at 9 A.M. from
Central Park West near the Museum of Natural History. Nothing stops the Parade: it marches along no matter the weather. TV viewers get to see the entertainment on Macy’s stage, as the parade winds down avenues until a final turn to the the store on Herald Square. Parade goers by the thousands bundle up experience it live.
It’s hard for anything to dampen its razzle-dazzle. This year features 16 giant character balloons; 27 novelty/ornament balloons, “balloonicles” (a hybrid of cold-air balloon and vehicle) and “trycaloons”; 26 floats; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 16 marching bands, pop stars and Broadway stars singing
and performance groups, such as the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes [making an early appearance before their Christmas Spectacular performances], Kilgore (TX) high-kicking Rangerettes, Alameda (CA) dancing Christmas Trees, and Boston’s Sayat Nova (Armenian) Dance Company Stars from Roundabout Theatre’s Holiday Inn will be “onstage.”
“Since our historic first march in 1924, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a call to celebration,” says Amy Kule, Parade executive producer. “Generations have gathered to enjoy the spectacle of high-flying balloons, fantasy floats,
incredible performers, and the one–and-only Santa Claus.
As we celebrate 90 years, we’re truly humbled by the unique role Macy’s Parade fills in the lives of millions worldwide, and thrilled to celebrate this milestone with a spectacular line-up of unparalleled holiday entertainment.”
That first Parade had live animals from the Central Park Zoo: lions, tigers, camels, and elephants. Three years later came the giant balloons created by puppeteer and Macy’s window designer Tony Sarg. From 1929 until 1931, the balloons were let go. If you found one and returned it, you received a Macy’s $50 gift certificate. The practice ended after a balloon got caught in an airline propeller/ The Parade is one of the few to have a starring role in a movie: The 1947 film classic, Miracle on 34th Street.
This 90th march kicks off with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and the Muppets gang. Following them will be U.S. Paralympic Gold medalists Tatyana and Hannah McFadden and NYC’s mounted brigade of police and Park rangers.
Among new balloons is a multi–character one from Dream Works’ Trolls
and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Returning giant balloons include
Angry Birds’ Red, Sinclair Oil’s Dino, Hello Kitty, Ice Age’s Scrat and his Acorn, PADDINGTON. Pillsbury Doughboy, Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Thomas the Tank Engine. The Parade’s first balloon star Felix the Cat returns, thanks to Dream Works Animation —designed and built using the methods from the 1920s. Also back is Peanuts’loveable blockhead Charlie Brown.
Many of the clowns and those securing the balloons are Macy’s employees and volunteers.
There’ll be no shortage of stars, stars, stars including legendary Tony Bennett singing for Hallmark, country star Brett Eldredge performing on Delta Airlines’ Central Park winter wonderland, Tony–nominee (Hamilton) and Drama Desk winner (In the Heights) Christopher Jackson cutting up with the Sesame Street gang, Johnnys wim making laps for Crack Jacks, lifestyle maven Sandra Lee whipping up grave on Tom Turkey, hip-hopper Lunch money Lewis in Krzay Glue’s Fun House, NHL legends Adam Graves and Eric Lindros, and U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists (Michelle Caryter, Laurie Hernandez, and Claressa Shields). Yes, there’s something for everyone!
New floats include The Aloha Spirit by King’s Hawaiian, Building a Better World by the Girl Scouts, and Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill where pop star Sarah McLachlan will sing under a three-story-tall Christmas tree. Ronald McDonald will drive his Big Red Shoe Car. Even if you wanted to, you can’t get away from the Aflac
duck ‘cause he’s in the Parade on a “balloonicle.”
The magic of the Thanksgiving Day Parade can be experienced interactively with Macy’s Parade Time Traveler app, available free on the iTunes App Store or Google Play, which, with your Smartphone camera, will transport you to three eras of Parades, from 30s, 60s, and 80s in live–action virtual reality.
On Macy’s YouTube channel, watch Old Friends: A Tribute to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which showcases how this larger–than-life event created long lasting personal connections over generations.