Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
|Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade|
Official 2014 88th Annual Parade Poster
Matt Lauer (1998–present)
Savannah Guthrie (2012–present)
Al Roker (1995–present)
Dave Garroway (1952–1961)
Betty White (1962–1972)
Lorne Greene (1962–1972)
Ed McMahon (1971–1982)
Bryant Gumbel (1982–1984)
Pat Sajak (1983–1986)
Willard Scott (1987–1997)
Deborah Norville (1989-1990)
Katie Couric (1991–2005)
Meredith Vieira (2006–2010)
Ann Curry (2011)
Parade Executive Producer:
Jean McFaddin (1977–2000)
Robin Hall (2001–2010)
Amy Kule (2010–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||88 (as of November 27, 2014)|
|Location(s)||Central Park to Macy's Herald Square
|Running time||3 Hours
Brad Lachman Productions
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original run||November 24, 1927
– November 22, 1951 (radio)|
November 25, 1948 – present (television)
|Related shows||Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
My Macy's Holiday Parade
Lighting of the Macy's Great Tree
Christmas in Rockefeller Center
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual parade presented by the U.S.-based retail store chain Macy's. The tradition started in 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States, along with America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit (with both parades being four years younger than the 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia). The three-hour Macy's event is held in New York City starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thanksgiving Day, and has been televised nationally on NBC since 1952.
- 1 History
- 2 Balloon introductions
- 3 Float introductions
- 4 Performers and acts
- 5 Television coverage
- 6 Parade route
- 7 Popular culture
- 8 Macy's Holiday Parade
- 9 Incidents and injuries
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
In the 1920s, many of Macy's department store employees were first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the United States parade of Thanksgiving with the type of festival their parents had loved in Europe.
In 1924, the annual Thanksgiving parade started by Louis Bamberger in Newark, New Jersey at the Bamberger's store was transferred to New York by Macy's. In New York, the employees marched to Macy's flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes. There were floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that first parade, as has been the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. At this first parade, however, the Jolly Old Elf was enthroned on the Macy's balcony at the 34th Street store entrance, where he was then "crowned" "King of the Kiddies." With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was such a success that Macy's declared it would become an annual event.
Anthony "Tony" Frederick Sarg loved to work with marionettes from an early age. After moving to London to start his own marionette business, Sarg moved to New York City to perform with his puppets on the street. Macy's heard about Sarg's talents and asked him to design a window display of a parade for the store. Sarg's large animal-shaped balloons, produced by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, replaced the live animals in 1927 when the Felix the Cat balloon made its debut. Felix was filled with air, but by the next year, helium was used to fill the expanding cast of balloons.
At the finale of the 1928 parade, the balloons were released into the sky where they unexpectedly burst. The following year they were redesigned with safety valves to allow them to float for a few days. Address labels were sewn into them, so that whoever found and mailed back the discarded balloon received a gift from Macy's.
Through the 1930s, the Parade continued to grow, with crowds of over 1 million lining the parade route in 1933. The first Mickey Mouse balloon entered the parade in 1934. The annual festivities were broadcast on local New York radio from 1932 through 1941, and resumed in 1945 through 1951.
The parade was suspended 1942–1944 during World War II, owing to the need for rubber and helium in the war effort. The parade resumed in 1945 using the route that it followed until 2008. The parade became known nationwide after being prominently featured in the 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street, which included footage of the 1946 festivities. The event was first broadcast on network television in 1948 (see below). By this point the event, and Macy's sponsorship of it, were sufficiently well-known to give rise to the colloquialism "Macy's Day Parade".
Macy's also sponsored the smaller Celebrate the Season Parade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, held two days after the main event, from 2006 to 2013. Other cities in the US also have parades on Thanksgiving, but they are not run by Macy's. The nation's oldest Thanksgiving parade (the Gimbels parade, which has had many sponsors over the years is now known as 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade) was first held in Philadelphia in 1920. Other cities include the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade of Chicago, Illinois and parades in Plymouth, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; Houston, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; and Fountain Hills, Arizona. A parade is also held at the two U.S. Disney theme parks. There is even a 2nd Thanksgiving balloon parade within the New York metropolitan area, the UBS balloon parade in Stamford, CT, 30 miles away. This parade is held the Sunday before Thanksgiving to not compete with the New York parade and usually does not duplicate any balloon characters.
The classic "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" logo (seen below) was, with one exception, last used in 2005. For 2006 a special variant of the logo was used. Every year since a new logo has been used for each parade. The logos however are seen rarely, if at all, on television as NBC has used its own logo with the word "Macy's" in script and "Thanksgiving Day Parade" in a bold font. The logos are assumed to be for Macy's use only, such as on the Grandstand tickets and the ID badges worn by parade staff. The Jackets worn by parade staff still bear the original classic parade logo, this being the only place where that logo can be found.
New safety measures were incorporated in 2006 to prevent accidents and balloon related injuries. One measure taken was installation of wind measurement devices to alert parade organizers to any unsafe conditions that could cause the balloons to behave erratically. Also, parade officials implemented a measure to keep the balloons closer to the ground during windy conditions. If wind speeds are forecast to be higher than 34 miles per hour, all balloons are removed from the parade.
In 2007, the journal Puppetry International published a first person account of being a balloon handler.
The balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade come in three varieties. The first and oldest is the novelty balloon class, consisting of smaller balloons, some of which fit on the heads of the performers; the largest of the novelty balloons typically require approximately 30 handlers. The second, and most famous, is the full-size balloon class, primarily consisting of licensed pop-culture characters; each of these is handled by exactly 90 people. The third and is the "Blue Sky Gallery," a program that ran from 2005 to 2012 and transformed the works of contemporary artists into full-size balloons.
The following is a list of balloons that have, over the years, been featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, sorted by their first year in the lineup. Underlined items indicate entries in the Blue Sky Gallery.
- 1927: Felix the Cat
- 1931: Mama, Papa and Baby
- 1934: Mickey Mouse
- 1935: The Marx Brothers (after Zeppo Marx's departure), Donald Duck
- 1937: Dragon
- 1938: Uncle Sam
- 1939: Superman
- 1940: Eddie Cantor, one of only two balloons based on a living person or people, The Tin Man, Pinocchio, Happy Hippo
- 1945: Harold the Clown (1st version)
- 1946: Harold the Baseball Player (2nd version)
- 1947: Artie the Pirate, Harold the Police officer (3rd version); Kit, Charlie and C.J. Elf Gnomes
- 1948: Harold the Fireman (4th version)
- 1949: Toy soldier
- 1950: Freida the Dachshund
- 1951: Lucky Pup, Mighty Mouse, Fried fish
- 1954: Spaceman
- 1957: Popeye
- 1960: Happy Dragon
- 1961: Bullwinkle J. Moose
- 1962: Donald Duck (2nd version)
- 1963: Sinclair Oil Dinosaur, Elsie the Cow
- 1964: Linus the Lionhearted
- 1965: Underdog
- 1966: Smokey Bear, Superman (2nd version)
- 1968: Aviator Snoopy
- 1972: Smile (Happy Face), Mickey Mouse (2nd version), Astronaut Snoopy (2nd version, a tribute to Apollo 11)
- 1975: Weeble
- 1976: Hello Kitty
- 1977: Kermit the Frog
- 1980: Superman (3rd version, largest balloon to appear in parade)
- 1982: Olive Oyl with Swee'Pea (first female character in parade history), Woody Woodpecker
- 1983: Yogi Bear
- 1984: Garfield, Raggedy Ann
- 1985: Betty Boop, Ornament Novelty Balloons
- 1986: Baby Shamu, Humpty Dumpty
- 1987: Spider-Man, Ronald McDonald, Snuggle Bear, Skating Snoopy (3rd version), Ice Cream Cone Novelty Balloon
- 1988: Big Bird, Pink Panther, Snoopy (4th version) with Woodstock, Nesquik Bunny
- 1989: Bugs Bunny
- 1990: Clifford the Big Red Dog, Bart Simpson
- 1991: Babar the Elephant
- 1992: Santa Goofy
- 1993: Beethoven (dog), Rex, Sonic the Hedgehog (first video game character in parade history), Izzy
- 1994: Barney the Dinosaur, The Cat in the Hat
- 1995: Dudley the Dragon, SkyDancer, Eben Bear
- 1996: Rocky and Bullwinkle (2nd version), Peter Rabbit
- 1997: Arthur, Tommy Pickles, Chuckie Finster and Spike, Bumpé
- 1998: Babe the Pig, Wild Thing, Dexter
- 1999: Millennium Snoopy (5th version), Honey Nut Cheerios Bee, Blue's Clues, Petunia Pig
- 2000: Bandleader Mickey Mouse (3rd version), Ronald McDonald (2nd version), Jeeves, Cassie Dragon Tales
- 2001: Curious George, Big Bird (2nd version), Jimmy Neutron, Pikachu, Cheesasaurus Rex,
- 2002: Kermit the Frog (2nd version), Little Bill, Rich Uncle Pennybags, Charlie Brown
- 2003: (Strike up the Band) Barney (2nd version), Super Grover, Garfield (2nd version)
- 2004: SpongeBob SquarePants, M&M's, Chicken Little
- 2005: Dora the Explorer, Scooby-Doo, Healthy Mr. Potato Head, JoJo, Tom Otterness's "Humpty Dumpty"
- 2006: Pikachu with Poké Ball (2nd version), Energizer Bunny, Flying Ace Snoopy (6th version)
- 2007: Shrek, Hello Kitty, Abby Cadabby, Novelty pumpkins, Jeff Koons's "Rabbit"
- 2008: Horton the Elephant, Buzz Lightyear, Smurf, Keith Haring's "Figure with Heart"
- 2009: Pillsbury Doughboy, Sailor Mickey Mouse (4th version), Ronald McDonald (3rd version), Spider-Man (2nd version)
- 2010: Greg Heffley, Po from Kung Fu Panda, Virginia O'Hanlon, Takashi Murakami's "Kaikai and Kiki"
- 2011: Sonic the Hedgehog (second version), Paul Frank's "Julius The Sock Monkey", Tim Burton's "B"
- 2012: Hello Kitty (second version), Papa Smurf, The Elf on the Shelf, Kaws's "Companion", Happy Dragon (second version), Novelty pumpkins (second version)
- 2013: Snoopy with Woodstock (seventh version), The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary, Finn and Jake, SpongeBob SquarePants (second version), Toothless the Dragon, Happy Hippo (second version)
- 2014: Pikachu Holiday version (third version), Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington Bear, Skylanders Eruptor, Red Power Ranger.
Falloon and Balloonicle
A falloon, (F), a portmanteau of "float" and "balloon", is a float-based balloon.
A balloonicle, (B), a portmanteau of "balloon" and "vehicle", is a self-powered balloon vehicle.
- 1991: Humpty Dumpty (F)
- 1996: Snow Family (F)
- 1997: Grinch (F), Jello (F), Rudolph (F)
- 1998: Heimlich from Bug's Life (F)
- 1999: "Buddy" from Pets.com (F)
- 2000: Green Dog (F)
- 2001: Snow Globe (F)
- 2003: Percy & the P-Birds (F)
- 2004: Weebles (B) - (3) Tibby, Tooey, Bumpus; Drummer Boy - Holiday Beat (F)
- 2005: SnowBo (B); Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi (F)
- 2006: Energizer Bunny (B)
- 2008: The Smurfs Mushroom House (F), Bolt (F)
- 2010: Kool-Aid Man (B)
- 2011: The Aflac Duck (B), Polar Bear
- 2013: Dreidel (B), Gelt (B)
- 1971: Tom Turkey (later sponsored by The E. W. Scripps Company)
- 1974: Sesame Street
- 1979: Sesame Street
- 1981: New York Daily News Big Apple
- 1984: Fraggle Rock, Care Bears
- 1985: Masters of the Universe, Rainbow Brite
- 1987: Marvel Comics, Ronald's Shoe
- 1991: Rock-A-Doodle
- 1993: Sesame Street
- 1995: Macy's Santaland Express
- 1996: 101 Dalmatians, Barney's Westward Ho! Wagon, Animal Planet, Universal Orlando Resort Grinch and Dr. Seuss
- 1998: Barney's Gingerbread House, Sesame Street
- 1999: Barney's Night Before Christmas
- 2000: 102 Dalmatians, Santa's Sleigh with the Goose (2nd Edition), Delta Airlines,
- 2001: Bob the Builder, Around The World
- 2002: Barney's Playtime in The Park, Macy's Marion-Carole "Showboat", Lego's Carousel Of Imagination, Angelina Ballerina, Build-a-Bear Workshop Teddy Bear's Workshop, Sesame Street
- 2003: Hess Corporation Bridge to the Future, Eckō Unltd.'s Expedition To Rhino Mountain, Big Comfy Couch, Amica Mutual Insurance American Classic Malt Shop, United States Postal Service's Spirit Of America/American Eagle, Jolly Polly Pirate Ship
- 2004: 123 Sesame Street, Tutenstein, Royal Caribbean International Voyage to Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort Holiday Beat, Georgia-Pacific Krazy Kritters, Fisher-Price The Magic of Childhood, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, NFL Classic, Spirit of America Pep Rally
- 2005: The Polar Express, Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary, Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, Pillsbury Company, Animal Planet (2nd Edition)
- 2006: Barbie & the 12 Dancing Princesses, Doodlebug, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Mother Goose, Greendog's Space Station Discovery, Snoopy's Doghouse, Charlotte's Web, History Channel's New York Tin Toy
- 2007: The Care Bears Winter Fun-Derland, International Cele-Bear-Ation Clock Tower, M&M's Chocolate Candies on Broadway, Music Bigger than Life, Barbie as the Island Princess, FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman
- 2008: Bolt, Castle of Dreams, Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers, Oneida Indian Nation True Spirit of Thanksgiving, Musical Innovation: Bigger Than Life, Jimmy Dean Shine On, Smurfs Mushroom house, Ocean Spray Woodland Family Gathering,
- 2009: Hamburger Helper Local Heroes Helping Everyday, Santa's Sleigh (3rd Edition), Yo Gabba Gabba! There's a Party in My City, Delta Airlines Winter Wonderland in Central Park,
- 2010: South Dakota Great Faces Great Places Mount Rushmore's American Pride, Morton Salt Home Baked Goodness, Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure, Homewood Suites On the Roll Again, Office Max Elves Raise the Roof, Despicable Me, Pokémon Black and White's Reshiram and Zekrom,
- 2011: Universal Orlando Resort P.B. Polar Bear, Zhuniverse, National Hockey League Frozen Fall Fun, Macy's Gift of Freedom (Statue of Liberty), Planters' Nut Mobile (second Edition)
- 2012: PBS Kids Sprout Daytime, Play Time, Night Time Too; Goldfish on Parade, Gibson Guitar Corporation Music Is Our Life, 75th Anniversary of March Madness, Domino Sugar Stirrin’ Up Sweet Sensations, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- 2013: The Enchanting World of Lindt Chocolate, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Windows to the World at Sea, Uncle Sam's Top Hat by Drake's, SeaWorld Sea of Surprises, Viking Confetti Catapult, Despicable Me 2 Delicious Yet Despicable, Cirque du Soleil's Dreamseeker
- 2014: Cracker Jack at the Ball Game, Goldieblox Girl Powered Spinning Machine, Dora and Friends Aventuras Fantásticas, Pirate's Booty Treasure Hunt, Sino-American Friendship Association's Beauty of Beijing
Performers and acts
In addition to the well-known balloons and floats, the Parade also features live music and other performances. College and high school marching bands from across the country participate in the parade, and the television broadcasts feature performances by famous singers and bands. The Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall are a classic performance as well, as are cheerleaders and dancers chosen by the National Cheerleaders Association from various high schools across the country. The parade concludes with the arrival of Santa Claus to ring in the Christmas and holiday season.
On the NBC telecast from in front of the flagship Macy's store on Broadway and 34th Street, the marching bands perform live music. Most "live" performances by musicals and individual artists lip sync to the studio, soundtrack or cast recordings of their songs, due to the technical difficulties of attempting to sing into a wireless microphone while in a moving vehicle (performers typically perform on the floats themselves); the NBC-flagged microphones used by performers on floats are almost always non-functioning props. Live performances with no use of recorded vocals are very rare in the parade.
Every year, cast members from a number of Broadway shows (usually shows that debuted that year) perform either in the parade, or immediately preceding the parade in front of Macy's (since NBC broadcasts the parade's start, the performances are shown during the wait for the parade itself). The 2007 parade was notable as it took place during a strike by the I.A.T.S.E. (a stage hands' union), and as such, Legally Blonde, the one performing musical affected by the strike, performed in show logo shirts, with makeshift props and no sets. The other 3 shows that year performed in theaters which were not affected by the strike.
- 1980: The Pirates of Penzance
- 1984: The Tap Dance Kid
- 1989: Meet Me in St. Louis
- 1992: Guys and Dolls
- 1993: The Who's Tommy
- 1994: Beauty and the Beast, Grease, Show Boat
- 1995: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Smokey Joe's Cafe
- 1998: Cabaret, Footloose, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Annie Get Your Gun, Peter Pan
- 1999: Saturday Night Fever, Fosse, Swing, Kiss Me, Kate
- 2000: The Music Man, Seussical, Swing, Annie Get Your Gun
- 2001: Mamma Mia!, 42nd Street, Thou Shalt Not, Contact
- 2002: Hairspray, Oklahoma!, The Producers, Thoroughly Modern Millie
- 2003: Wicked, The Boy From Oz, Little Shop of Horrors, Never Gonna Dance
- 2004: Bombay Dreams, All Shook Up, La Cage aux Folles, Wonderful Town, Good Vibrations
- 2005: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Jersey Boys, Sweet Charity
- 2006: A Chorus Line, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Color Purple, Spamalot
- 2007: Legally Blonde, Mary Poppins, Young Frankenstein, Xanadu
- 2008: White Christmas, In the Heights, South Pacific, The Little Mermaid
- 2009: Billy Elliot, Bye, Bye Birdie, Hair, Shrek
- 2010: Memphis, American Idiot, Elf, Million Dollar Quartet
- 2011: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Sister Act, Newsies
- 2012: Annie, Bring It On, Elf, Cinderella, Nice Work If You Can Get It
- 2013: Matilda, Motown, Pippin, Kinky Boots
- 2014: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Honeymoon in Vegas, The Last Ship, On the Town, Side Show
Along with the Broadway performances, the Rockettes have performed annually since 1957 as the last of the pre-parade acts to perform.
- 2014-American Fork High School Marching Band, Utah; Bahamas All Stars Marching Band, Nassau, Bahamas; Baldwinsville High School Marching Band, Baldwinsville, New York; Center Grove High School, Greenwood, Indiana; Winston Churchill High School Marching Band, San Antonio, Texas; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School Marching Band, Lexington, Kentucky; Foothill High School Marching Band, Henderson, Nevada; Georgia State University Marching Band, Atlanta, Georgia; Macy's Great American Marching Band, USA; Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps Anniversary Corps, Madison, Wisconsin; New York Police Department Marching Band, New York; Western Carolina University Marching Band, Cullowhee, North Carolina
- 2013-Concord High School Marching Band, Elkhart, Indiana; Lakota West High School Marching Band, West Chester, Ohio; Macy's Great American Marching Band, USA; James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes, Harrisonburg, Virginia; Marian Catholic High School Marching Band, Chicago Heights, Illinois; Mountain View High School Marching Band, Mesa, Arizona; NYPD Marching Band, New York; Ooltewah High School Marching Band, Tennessee; Tarpon Springs High School Marching Band, Florida; Union High School Marching Band, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Quantico Marine Corps Band, Quantico, Virginia; University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band
For the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in 2011, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade invited family members from Tuesday's Children, a family service organization that has made a long-term commitment to those directly impacted by the attacks and terrorism around the world, to cut the ribbon at the start of the parade with NBC's Al Roker and led the parade with Amy Kule, the Parade's executive producer.
More than 44 million people watch the parade on television each year. It was first televised locally in 1939 as an experimental broadcast. No television stations broadcast the parade in 1940 or 1941, but when the parade returned in 1945 after the wartime suspension, local broadcasts also resumed. The parade began its network television appearances on CBS in 1948, the year that regular television network programming began. NBC has been the official broadcaster of the event since 1952, though CBS (which has a studio in Times Square) also carries unauthorized coverage under the title The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS. Since the parade takes place in public, the parade committee can endorse an official broadcaster, but they cannot award exclusive rights as other events (such as sporting events, which take place inside restricted-access stadiums) do. The rerouting of the parade that was implemented for the 2012 event (see below) moved the parade out of the view of CBS's cameras and thus made it significantly more difficult for the network to cover the parade; CBS nevertheless continues to cover the parade to the same extent as in previous years.
At first, the telecasts were only an hour long. In 1961, the telecast expanded to two hours, then 90 minutes beginning in 1962, before reverting to a two-hour telecast in 1965; all three hours of the parade were televised by 1969. The event began to be broadcast in color in 1960. NBC airs the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live in the Eastern Time Zone, but tape delays the telecast elsewhere in the continental U.S. and territories from the Central Time Zone westward to allow the program to air in the same 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. timeslot across its owned-and-operated stations and affiliates (since that program's initial expansion to three hours in 2000, the parade pre-empts the final two hours of NBC's morning program Today as a result). NBC began airing a same-day afternoon rebroadcast of the parade in 2008 (replacing Miracle on 34th Street, which the network aired on Thanksgiving afternoon for many years, a result of the network losing the broadcast television rights to the 1947 film). CBS's unauthorized coverage airs live in most time zones, allowing viewers to see the parade as many as three hours before the official NBC coverage airs in their area.
From 1962 to 1971, NBC's coverage was hosted by Lorne Greene (who was then appearing in NBC's Bonanza) and Betty White. Ed McMahon co-hosted in 1971, then hosted until 1982. Beginning in 1982, NBC has appointed a host of Today to (co-)emcee the television broadcast, starting with Bryant Gumbel, who hosted the parade until 1987. From 1987 to 1997, the NBC telecast coverage was hosted by longtime Today weather anchor Willard Scott. During that period, their co-hosts included Mary Hart, Sandy Duncan, Deborah Norville and Katie Couric. In recent years, NBC's coverage has been hosted by Today anchors Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira (from 2006 to 2010), Ann Curry (for the 2011 telecast only) and Savannah Guthrie (since 2012) as well as Today weather anchor Al Roker.
From the early 1980s until circa 1994, the television broadcast was produced and directed by Dick Schneider; since circa 1994, it has been executive produced by Brad Lachman (who has been otherwise known for producing reality television series), produced by Bill Bracken and directed by veteran sitcom director Gary Halvorson. Announcements during the telecast were first provided by Don Pardo, followed by Lynda Lopez, the telecast's only female announcer, who served during the decade wherein Willard Scott was the parade's host; from circa 1994 to 2010, announcer duties were helmed by Joel Godard (who also served as the announcer for Late Night with Conan O'Brien for much of that period), and then were assumed by Today announcer Les Marshak with the 2011 telecast. The musical director for the television coverage is the veteran composer/arranger Milton DeLugg.
CBS's coverage was originally part of an "All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade," a broadcast that included footage from multiple parades across the continent, including parades at Detroit, Philadelphia and Disneyland (the latter later replaced by Opryland USA and after that Miami Beach), and taped footage of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade (taped usually the second or third weekend of November) and the Aloha Floral Parade in Honolulu (held two months before the CBS broadcast). Beginning in 2004, however, CBS has focused exclusively on the Macy's parade, but avoids using the Macy's name due to the lack of an official license. To compensate for the fact that the Broadway and music performances can only appear on NBC, CBS adds their own pre-recorded performances (also including Broadway shows, although different from the ones that are part of the official parade) to fill out the special.
For the 1997 parade, MTV guest reporters, Beavis and Butt-head, with host Kurt Loder, provided their usual style of commentary on aspects of the parade, and of their take on Thanksgiving in general. The special, titled Beavis and Butt-head Do Thanksgiving, included a balloon of Beavis and Butt-head spectating from their couch. The balloon was not participating in the parade, but stationed on top of a building alongside the parade route.
In 2008, a Coca Cola CGI ad aired in the United States during Super Bowl XLII. The commercial's plot consisted of Underdog and fictional Stewie Griffin balloons chasing a Coke bottle-shaped balloon through New York City. The spot ended with a Charlie Brown balloon holding the Coke balloon. The advertisement won a Silver Lion Award at the annual Lions International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France that year, and the clip of the commercial with the Griffin balloon was featured in a Macy's commercial in October 2008 (along with clips of Miracle on 34th Street, I Love Lucy, Seinfeld and other media where the Macy's department store was mentioned). The commercial was even referenced in an episode of Family Guy (the show in which Stewie stars); Stewie is seen watching the parade only to see the balloon of himself in the parade.
The Parade has always taken place in Manhattan, one of the Five Boroughs that make up New York City. Originally the parade started from 145th Street in Harlem and ended at Herald Square, a 6-mile route.
In the 1930s, the balloons were inflated in the area of 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue near St. John the Divine Cathedral. The parade proceeded South on Amsterdam Ave. to 106th Street and turned east. At Columbus Ave. the balloons had to be lowered to go under the 9th Avenue Elevated Subway tracks. Past the tracks, the parade proceeded through 106th street to Central Park West and turned South to terminate at Macy's Department Store.
A new route was established for the 2009 parade. From 77th Street and Central Park West, the route went south along Central Park to Columbus Circle, then east along Central Park South. The parade would then make a right turn at 7th Avenue and go south to Times Square. At 42nd Street the parade turned left and went east, then at 6th Avenue turned right again at Bryant Park. Heading south on 6th Avenue, the parade turned right at 34th Street (Herald Square) and proceeded west to the terminating point at 7th Avenue where the floats are taken down. The 2009 route change eliminated Broadway completely, where the parade has traveled down for decades. The City of New York said that the new route would provide more space for the parade, and more viewing space for spectators. Another reason for implementing the route change is the city's plan to turn Broadway into a pedestrian-only zone at Times Square.
Another new route has begun starting with the 2012 parade. This change is similar to the 2009 route, but now eliminates Times Square altogether and reroutes the parade down Sixth Avenue, a move that has been protested by the Times Square BID, Broadway theatre owners and other groups.
It is not advised to view the parade from Columbus Circle, as balloon teams race through it due to higher winds in this flat area.
New York City officials preview the parade route and try to eliminate as many potential obstacles as possible, including rotating overhead traffic signals out of the way.
The first Thanksgiving-themed episode of Friends centered on the accidental release of the (unused at the time) "Underdog" balloon.
"Macy's Day Parade" is a song by Green Day.
Macy's Holiday Parade
Since 2001, Macy's Studios has partnered with the Universal Orlando Resort (owned by NBC Universal) to bring balloons and floats from New York to the theme park in Florida every holiday season. The parade is performed daily and includes the iconic Santa Claus float. Performers from the Orlando area are cast as various clowns, and the park used to invite guests to be "balloon handlers" for the parade.
Incidents and injuries
- In 1927, a Felix The Cat balloon caught in some telephone wires and caught fire. The fire was put out, but Felix was removed from the parade.
- In 1957, a Popeye the Sailor balloon's hat filled with water during heavy rain, which caused the balloon to go off-course and pour water on the crowd.
- In 1982, the Bullwinkle balloon sprang a catastrophic nose leak just a few blocks shy of the finish line.
- In 1985, the Kermit the Frog balloon tore at the stomach. No one was injured.
- In 1986, a Raggedy Ann balloon crashed into a lamppost and sent a lamp into the street. The same year, a Superman balloon had its hand torn off by a tree. Neither incident caused any injuries.
- In 1993, high winds pushed the Rex the Dinosaur balloon into a street light and caused his head to pop and the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon crashed into a lamppost at Columbus Circle and injured an off-duty police officer.
- In 1994, the Barney balloon tore its side on a lamppost, but no one was injured.
- In 1995, the Dudley the Dragon balloon that was leading the parade was speared and deflated on a lamppost and showered glass on the crowd below.
- In 1997, high winds pushed the Cat in the Hat balloon into a lamppost. The falling debris struck a parade-goer, fracturing her skull and leaving her in a coma for a month. Size rules were implemented the next year, eliminating larger balloons like the Cat in the Hat. The same high winds also caused the New York City Police Department to stab and stomp down the Barney balloon over crowd concerns. They also stabbed a Pink Panther balloon for the same reason. Neither of the last two balloons actually caused any injuries. Additionally, the Peter Rabbit balloon leaned too close to a lamppost, and almost popped his ear.
- In 2000, Rocky was not seen alongside Bullwinkle, having accidentally deflated during preparation.
- In 2005, the M&M's chocolate candies balloon caught on a streetlight in Times Square. Two sisters were struck by falling debris, suffering minor injuries. As a result, new safety rules were introduced. Those rules came in handy for the 2006 parade, as balloons were lowered because of rain and high winds. The M&M's balloon was retired after 2006, and replaced by a float saluting Broadway theatre and musicals. Additionally, the Barney balloon was nearly blown away, and his foot got ripped by a street light.
- In 2008, a Keith Haring-inspired balloon hit the NBC Broadcast Booth.
- In 2010, high winds pushed the SpongeBob SquarePants balloon into a lampost, but it was freed (It happened before in 2006).
- In 2011, the Kool Aid Man balloon was tipped over when it became deflated.
- In 2012, the Buzz Lightyear balloon tore a massive hole in his helmet and was caught on tape in a nearby river. Also, the Spongebob Squarepants and Pikachu balloons were not inflated very well.
- In 2013, the Spider-Man balloon had his left arm become partially deflated after impacting a tree along Central Park.
- "Portfolio of Brad Lachman-produced programs". Retrieved 22 November 2012.
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- "Get Set, Children, and Your Parents, Too; Genii Are Coming in Thanksgiving Parade", The New York Times, Nov. 14, 2010, p. 27.
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- Langsner, Meron "Parading With the Pink Panther Pulling Posse: An Account of Being a Balloon Hander in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," Puppetry International , Fall/Winter 2007- Issue No. 22
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- "Spider-Man Returning to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Paradede"[dead link], Associated Press via WCBS (AM), 17 August 2009
- Jensen, Elizabeth (November 25, 2012). At ‘Sesame Street,’ a Void in a Close-Knit Troupe. The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2012. "The puppet was featured on a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float, with another puppeteer acting to Mr. Clash’s taped voice."
- "Television" section of "Today on the Radio", The New York Times, November 23, 1939, p. 40.
- "Radio Today" (with television listings), The New York Times, Nov. 20, 1941, p. 54.
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- "The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS" will be anchored live by "The Early Show's" Dave Price and Maggie Rodriguez from New York's Times Square, Thursday, Nov. 27 on the CBS Television Network. CBS press release (2008-11-13). Retrieved 2010-06-21.
- "Television", The New York Times, November 23, 1961, p. 71.
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- New route plan[dead link] - Macy's Website
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- William L. Bird, Jr. Holidays on Display. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History in Association with Princeton Architectural Press, 2007.
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