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)
|Starring||Parade Executive Producer:
Jean McFaddin (1977–2000)
Robin Hall (2001–2010)
Amy Kule (2010–present)
Brad Lachman Productions
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||90 (as of November 24, 2016)|
|Location(s)||Central Park to Macy's Herald Square,
New York City, New York
|Camera setup||Videotape; multi-camera|
|Running time||3 hours
|Picture format||480i (SDTV),
|Original release||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 department store chain Macy's. The tradition started in 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States 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 Macy's Holiday Parade
- 8 Incidents and injuries
- 9 In popular culture
- 10 References
- 11 External links
In the 1920s, many of Macy's department store employees were first-generation European immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the American holiday 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 City 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 250,000 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. A popular belief was that a balloon version Felix the Cat balloon was the first ever character balloon in the parade back in 1937, with Macy's also claiming that too, but Felix actually made his first appearance in 1931.
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 one million people lining the parade route in 1933. The first Mickey Mouse balloon entered the parade in 1934. The annual festivities were broadcast on local radio stations in New York City from 1932 to 1941, and resumed in 1945, running through 1951.
The parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944 as a result of 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". Since 1984, the balloons have been made by Raven Aerostar (a division of Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Raven Industries).
Macy's also sponsored the smaller Celebrate the Season Parade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is held two days after the main event, from 2006 to 2013. Other American cities also have parades held on Thanksgiving, none of which are run by Macy's. The nation's oldest Thanksgiving parade (the Gimbels parade, which has had many sponsors over the years, and is now known as the 6abc Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade) was first held in Philadelphia in 1920. Other cities with parades on the holiday include the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in 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 Disney theme parks, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. There is also a second Thanksgiving balloon parade within the New York metropolitan area, the UBS balloon parade in Stamford, Connecticut, located 30 miles (48 km) away; that parade is held the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so as to not compete with the parade in New York City 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 then, 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 a script typeface and "Thanksgiving Day Parade" in a bold font. The logos are assumed to be for use by Macy's 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 the installation of wind measurement devices to alert parade organizers to any unsafe conditions that could cause the balloons to behave erratically. In addition, 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 (55 km/h), all balloons are removed from the parade.
Since 2013, the balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade have come in two varieties. The first (and older of the two) is the novelty balloon class, consisting of smaller balloons; the novelty balloons range widely in size and are handled by between one and thirty people (the smallest novelty balloons are shaped like human heads and fit on the actual heads of the handlers). The second and more widely known is the full-size balloon class, primarily consisting of licensed pop-culture characters; each of these is handled by exactly 90 people. From 2005 to 2012, a third balloon class, the "Blue Sky Gallery," 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.
|1931||Felix the Cat, Mama, Papa and Baby|
|1934||Mickey Mouse, Eddie Cantor, the only full-size balloon to be based on a living person;,|
|1935||The Marx Brothers (after Zeppo Marx's departure), Donald Duck|
|1937||Dragon, Christmas Stocking|
|1940||The Tin Man, Pinocchio, Santa Claus|
|1941||The Football Player (Redesigned version of Superman Balloon)|
|1945||Bobo the Hobo (Clown), Acrobat, Teddy Bear, Pumpkin, Ice Cream Cone|
|1946||The Baseball Player (Redesigned version of Bobo the Hobo)|
|1947||The Pirate, The Police officer (Redesigned version of The Baseball Player), Elf Gnome|
|1948||The Fireman (Redesigned version of The Police Officer)|
|1951||Lucky Pup, Mighty Mouse, Flying fish|
|1961||Bullwinkle J. Moose|
|1962||Donald Duck (2nd version)|
|1963||Dino, Elsie the Cow|
|1964||Linus the Lionhearted|
|1966||Smokey Bear, Superman (2nd version)|
|1969||Astronaut Snoopy (2nd version, a tribute to Apollo 11)|
|1972||Smile (Happy Face), Mickey Mouse (2nd version)|
|1977||Kermit the Frog|
|1980||Superman (3rd version, largest balloon to appear in parade)|
|1982||Olive Oyl, Woody Woodpecker|
|1984||Garfield, Raggedy Ann|
|1985||Betty Boop, Ornament Novelty Balloons|
|1986||Baby Shamu, Humpty Dumpty (Redesigned version of Weeble balloon), Olive Oyl with Swee'Pea (Alteration to existing Olive Oyl Balloon)|
|1987||Spider-Man, Ronald McDonald, Snuggle Bear, Ice Skating Snoopy (3rd version), Ice Cream Cone Novelty Balloon|
|1988||Big Bird, Pink Panther, Winter Snoopy (4th version) with Woodstock, Quik Bunny|
|1990||Clifford the Big Red Dog, Bart Simpson|
|1991||Babar the Elephant|
|1992||Santa Goofy, Novelty Pumpkins (Recreation of 1945 Pumpkin)|
|1993||Beethoven (dog), Rex, Sonic the Hedgehog (first video game character in parade history), Izzy, Wiggle Worm|
|1994||Barney the Dinosaur, The Cat in the Hat, Cloe the Holiday Clown|
|1995||Dudley the Dragon, SkyDancer, Eben Bear, FujiFilm's Blimp|
|1996||Rocky and Bullwinkle (2nd version), Peter Rabbit, Harold the Fireman (Remake of "The Fireman" balloon), Flying Fish (Re-creation of 1950's Fish balloon)|
|1997||Arthur, Rugrats, Bumpe the Cow, Ms. Petula Pig|
|1998||Babe the Pig, Wild Thing, Dexter|
|1999||Millennium Snoopy (5th version), Honey Nut Cheerios Bee, Blue|
|2000||Bandleader Mickey Mouse (3rd version), Ronald McDonald (2nd version), Jeeves, Cassie, Beret Tommy Pickles (minor alteration to existing Rugrats Balloon), Charlie the Blue Elf Gnome (Recreation of 1940's Elf balloon)|
|2001||Curious George, Big Bird (2nd version), Jimmy Neutron, Pikachu, Cheesasaurus Rex, Toy Soldier (Recreation of 1950's Toy Soldier), Happy Hippo (Re-Creation of 40's Hippo Balloon) 75th Parade Snoopy (Alteration to existing Millennium Snoopy Balloon), 60th Anniversary Tuxedo Honey Nut Cheerios Bee (Alteration to existing Honey Nut Cheerios Bee Balloon), Yellow 75th Parade Stars|
|2002||Kermit the Frog (2nd version), Little Bill (First African-American character to appear in the parade), Mr. Monopoly, Charlie Brown, Uncle Sam (Recreation of 1930's Uncle Sam balloon), Yellow Parade Logo Stars|
|2003||Strike up the Band Barney (2nd version), Super Grover, Garfield (2nd version), Gorgeous Gobbler (Recreation of 1940's Turkey balloon), Freda The Dachshund (Recreation of 1950s Dachshund balloon), Novelty Pumpkins (Second Version)|
|2004||SpongeBob SquarePants, M&M's, Chicken Little, Jeeves with a new suit (alteration of existing Jeeves Balloon), Kit and C.J. Elf Gnomes, Wiggle Worm (Second Version), Red Candy Cane|
|2005||Dora the Explorer (First Latino character to appear in parade), Scooby-Doo, Healthy Mr. Potato Head, JoJo, Cloe the Holiday Clown (2nd Version) Tom Otterness's "Humpty Dumpty"|
|2006||Pikachu with Poké Ball (2nd version, first balloon with light up features, In Pikachu's case, to light up his cheeks), Flying Ace Snoopy (6th version), 80th Anniversary Hot Air Balloon, Macy's Yellow Stars, Green Candy Cane|
|2007||Shrek, Supercute Hello Kitty, Abby Cadabby, Jeff Koons's "Rabbit", Artie the Pirate (Recreation of 1940s Pirate balloon), Planet Earth, Soccer Ball|
|2008||Horton the Elephant, Buzz Lightyear, Smurf, Keith Haring's "Figure with Heart", 150 Years Golden Stars, Green Believe Star|
|2009||Pillsbury Doughboy, Sailor Mickey Mouse (4th version), Ice Skating Ronald McDonald (3rd version), Spider-Man (2nd version), Big Man Santa, Basketball|
|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", Harold the Police Officer (recreation of 1940's "The Police Officer" balloon), Gazor Elf (Winner of the Design an Elf contest that was held on the Macy's website)|
|2012||Aeroplane Hello Kitty (second version), Papa Smurf, The Elf on the Shelf, Kaws's "Companion", Happy Dragon (Recreation of older Happy Dragon balloon), Novelty pumpkins (third version)|
|2013||Snoopy with Woodstock (seventh version), The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Hot Air Balloon, Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, Santa Hat SpongeBob SquarePants (second version), Toothless the Dragon, Happy Hippo (New version of 2001 Happy Hippo balloon)|
|2014||Thomas the Tank Engine; Paddington Bear; Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, Skylanders Eruptor; Holiday Pikachu (third version); Pillsbury Doughboy (2nd Version, Identical to first version).|
|2015||Scrat and his Acorn, Ronald McDonald (fourth version); Angry Birds Red; Dino (second version)|
|2016||DreamWorks Trolls, Charlie Brown (Second version), Greg Heffley (second version). Felix the Cat (Second Version), Trixie the Dog|
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.
|1990||Paddington Bear (F)|
|1991||Humpty Dumpty (F)|
|1996||Family Channel (Later Fox Family) Snow Family (F)|
|1997||Grinch (F), Jello (F), Rudolph (F)|
|1998||Heimlich from A Bug's Life (F)|
|1999||"Buddy" from Pets.com (F)|
|2000||Green Dog (F)|
|2001||Percy the Penguin (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||Sledding Aflac Duck (B), Polar Bear (F), Holiday Ornament (B)|
|2013||Dreidel (B), Gelt (B)|
|2014||Ice Skating Aflac Duck (2nd Version) (B), Cloe the Holiday Clown (3rd Version) (B)|
|1971||Tom Turkey (later sponsored by The E. W. Scripps Company)|
|1981||New York Daily News Big Apple|
|1984||Fraggle Rock, Care Bears.|
|1985||Masters of the Universe, Rainbow Brite.|
|1994||Sesame Street reading and writing|
|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 Pop-up Book|
|1999||Barney's Night Before Christmas (2nd float)|
|2000||102 Dalmatians, Santa's Sleigh with the Goose (2nd Edition), Delta Airlines, Ronald's Shoe|
|2001||Around The World, Pokemobile, 75th Parade All Stars|
|2002||Barney's Playtime in The Park (3rd float), The Hershey Company's Kids Candy Creation Lab, Macy's Marion-Carole "Showboat", Lego's Carousel Of Imagination, Angelina Ballerina, Build-a-Bear Workshop Teddy Bear's Workshop, Bob the Builder, Sesame Street International.|
|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, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, 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 of Disney Park Magic, 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||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, Delta Airlines Winter Wonderland in Central Park.|
|2009||Hamburger Helper Local Heroes Helping Everyday, Santa's Sleigh (3rd Edition), Yo Gabba Gabba! There's a Party in My City|
|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's P.B. Polar Bear, Zhuniverse, National Hockey League Frozen Fall Fun, Macy's Gift of Freedom (Statue of Liberty), Planters' Nut Mobile (second Edition), 85th Parade All Stars|
|2012||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 International 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|
|2015||Spirit of America's Big City Cheer, National Hockey League, Sino-American Friend Association's Stone Forest of Kunming, KFC The Colonel's Trip to NYC, Avocados from Mexico Casa Fresca Café, Sprout Free to Play, Build-A-Bear Workshop Discover Adventure, Ocean Spray The Cranberry Co-Operative, Macy's Hearts Peanuts (2nd version of Snoopy's Doghouse float), Hallmark Channel Heartwarming Holiday Countdown|
|2016||Balsam Hill Oh Christmas Tree, King's Hawaiian The Aloha Spirit, Krazy Glue Fun House, Girl Scouts of the USA Building a Better World, Sino-American Friend Association China's Chengdu|
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 established and up-and-coming singers and bands. The Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall are a classic performance as well (having performed annually since 1957 as the last of the pre-parade acts to perform), 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 stagehands' 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 three shows that year performed in theaters that were not affected by the strike.
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 on an annual basis. It was first televised locally in New York City 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) have the authority to 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.
Since 2003, the parade has been broadcast simultaneously in Spanish on the sister network of NBCUniversal (Telemundo) host by María Celeste Arrarás from 2003-2006. The parade won nine Emmy Awards for outstanding achievements in special event coverage since 1979.
At first, the telecasts were only an hour long. In 1961, the telecast expanded to two hours, and was then reduced to 90 minutes 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 and affiliated stations (since the morning program's initial expansion to three hours in 2000, the parade pre-empts the final two hours of Today as a result). NBC began airing a same-day afternoon rebroadcast of the parade in 2009 (replacing the annual broadcast of Miracle on 34th Street, which NBC had lost the broadcast television rights to that year). CBS's unauthorized coverage airs live in most time zones, allowing viewers to see the parade as many as two hours before the official NBC coverage airs in their area; CBS still broadcasts the parade on delay on the West Coast, immediately after the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving game in years when CBS carries it, or at 9 a.m. local time in years they carry the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game.
From 1962 to 1971, NBC's coverage was hosted by Lorne Greene (who was then appearing on NBC's Bonanza) and Betty White. Ed McMahon co-hosted in 1971, then hosted until 1982. Since 1982, NBC has appointed at least one of the hosts of Today to emcee the television broadcast, starting with Bryant Gumbel, who hosted the parade until 1987. From 1987 to 1997, NBC's coverage was hosted by longtime Today weather anchor Willard Scott. During that period, their co-hosts included Mary Hart, Sandy Duncan, and Today colleagues 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 otherwise been 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 veteran composer/arranger Milton DeLugg.
CBS's coverage was originally part of the "All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade," a broadcast that included footage from multiple parades across North America, including parades at Detroit, Philadelphia and Disneyland (the latter was later replaced by Opryland USA in 1997 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 (which usually took place in September). 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 and recorded off-site) 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 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 Avenue to 106th Street and turned east. At Columbus Avenue, the balloons had to be lowered to go under the Ninth Avenue El. Past the El 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 (at 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 was introduced with the 2012 parade. This change is similar to the 2009 route, but eliminated Times Square altogether.
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.
Macy's Holiday Parade
Since 2001, Macy's Studios has partnered with the Universal Orlando Resort (owned by NBC parent NBCUniversal) to bring balloons and floats from New York City 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 1941, the Santa Claus balloon collapsed on route after getting damaged.
- In 1956, the Mighty Mouse balloon escaped from its handlers and was deflated near Columbus Circle.
- In 1957, the Popeye the Sailor balloon's hat got filled with water due to heavy rain and the design of the hat. This caused the balloon to go off-course and pour freezing water on the crowd. The balloon's hat was remade for the next parade, so it did not cause any water spillages.
- In 1962, the Donald Duck balloon's hat got filled with water during heavy rain, and much like with Popeye in 1957, Donald's hat drenched cold water on the crowd.
- In 1972, Donald Duck's left wing was deflated by a tree, due to this he was retired from the parade.
- In 1980, the Aviator Snoopy balloon was left out of the parade due to a broken leg, the following year when he returned, a black garbage bag that was acting like a bandage was wrapped around the broken leg.
- In 1982, the Bullwinkle balloon sprang a catastrophic nose leak just a few blocks shy of the finish line. The balloons had trouble that year due to the high winds.
- In 1985, the Kermit the Frog balloon tore at the stomach after colliding with a tree due to heavy rain. Olive Oyl and Superman couldn't start at all due to the rainy weather damaging the balloons. The list Aviator Snoopy was holding came off the balloon and fell to the ground, but the balloon didn't get damaged though.
- In 1986, the Raggedy Ann balloon crashed into a lamppost and sent the lamp into the street. The Superman balloon also featured in that year's parade had its hand torn off by a tree which caused its arm to deflate. Betty Boop, the last character balloon that year collapsed onto the ground a few yards away from the finish line and Olive Oyl had one of her arms ripped off, but the hand remained standing due to it being a separate part connected.
- In 1989, the Snoopy balloon's nose and the Bugs Bunny balloon's side were punctured by trees before the parade started, and could not leave the route.
- In 1991, the Kermit the Frog balloon collided with a tree in Central Park West, and his head deflated, which meant the balloon had to be retired. Betty Boop's moon was deflated on route as well but made it through though.
- In 1993, high winds pushed the Rex the Dinosaur balloon into a street light and caused his head to pop, The balloon spent the rest of the parade with a deflated head. The Sonic the Hedgehog balloon crashed into a lamppost at Columbus Circle and injured a child and an off-duty police officer. for minor incidents, Woody Woodpecker was carried lower than usual and his stomach was ripped open. Bart Simpson's T-shirt was ripped open by a lamppost, and Spider-Man had his head partly deflated after colliding with some trees.
- In 1994, the Barney balloon tore its side on a lamppost.
- In 1995, the Dudley the Dragon balloon that was leading the parade was speared and deflated on a lamppost in Columbus Circle and showered the glass from the lamppost onto the crowd below. The balloon could not make the rest of the route due to this. Sonic the Hedgehog also managed to snag a lamppost and was also removed from the parade. SkyDancer had her face deflated by a tree, Betty Boop had her moon ripped apart, and Garfield hit into a lamppost, but ended up bouncing back with no damage.
- In 1996, unexpected "wind demons" caused the Woody Woodpecker balloon's left hand to get ripped off by a tree.
- In 1997, very 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. 3 other people were also injured from the lamp post. Size rules were implemented the next year, eliminating larger balloons like the Cat in the Hat.
The winds also caused trouble for the other balloons. The Barney balloon hit a lamp post and was eventually stabbed by the NYPD. The Pink Panther balloon collapsed onto the ground and had also been stabbed by the NYPD over crowd concerns. The Peter Rabbit balloon leaned too close to a lamppost, and almost popped its ear. The Quik Bunny balloon's ear was ripped off on a lamp post in Times Square and the balloon collapsed. Some balloons made the route but was damaged upon repair. Arthur ended up getting a damaged arm. Garfield's left back paw was damaged (with his tail getting damaged in the overnight windy conditions) as well as Bumpe's left legs. The Paddington Bear falloon was pushed over by the winds and was pushed back up again. Cloe the Holiday Clown, Flying Fish and Sonic the Hedgehog were damaged during the Overnight winds and could not start the parade at all. The last 2 balloons in the parade, Eben Bear and Ms. Petula Pig, were removed from the parade after the Cat in the Hat Incident even though they were not damaged.
- In 1998, A gust of wind pushed the Wild Thing balloon into a tree right at the very start of the parade and the balloon tore open. Additionally, the Garfield, Quik Bunny, and Spider-Man balloons also tore open right at the start of the parade and never made it down the route.
- In 2000, the Rocky balloon was accidentally deflated during preparation, and could not appear on the back of the Bullwinkle balloon, meaning that Bullwinkle had to fly alone.
- In 2001, the Ronald McDonald balloon had his left arm torn open after colliding with some Central Park trees.
- In 2003, the Gorgeous Gobbler novelty balloon that was leading the parade had some of his feathers shredded by a tree.
- In 2004, the Garfield and Clifford the Big Red Dog balloons were snagged by trees. No damage was done to Clifford, but Garfield suffered damage to his left paw. Additionally, the Charlie Brown balloon almost crashed into a street light, as gusty winds pushed him dangerously close to it. The SpongeBob SquarePants balloon was snagged by a lamppost at Times Square, but was freed. Kermit the Frog was pushed into the crowd due to the winds, but was moved back.
- In 2005, the M&M's balloon caught on a streetlight in Times Square and dropped parts of the light onto two sisters were struck by the 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 2006, SpongeBob SquarePants once again snagged a Lamp Post, and was freed.
- In 2008, a Keith Haring-inspired balloon hit the NBC Broadcast Booth, sending the hosts off air for a few minutes.
- In 2010, the Wiggle Worm novelty balloon was punctured by a One-Way sign in an attempt to spin. SpongeBob once again snagged a Lamp Post, and was freed.
- In 2011, the Kool Aid Man balloonicle tipped over when it was being inflated, and one of Ronald McDonald's ice skates got deflated.
- In 2012, the Buzz Lightyear balloon tore a massive hole in the helmet and was caught on tape in a nearby river. Also, the SpongeBob SquarePants and Pikachu balloons weren't inflated very well. Ronald McDonald's hair was also deflated by a tree right at the start, but the balloon still made it through.
- In 2013, the Spider-Man balloon had his left arm become partially deflated after impacting a tree along Central Park. Sonic the Hedgehog flailed in the wind at the start and also got his left hand caught on a lamp post, but it was freed, and one of the Buzz Lightyear balloon buggies ran over a female balloon handler, injuring her foot.
In popular culture
- The 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street, begins with the parade, as do most of its remakes. The film centers around the real Santa Claus being hired to work at Macy's after its own Santa impersonator gets drunk during the parade. NBC, in its telecasts of the parade, often showed the original 1947 film on Thanksgiving afternoon, following parade coverage.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Mom and Pop Store", Elaine wins a spot on the parade route for her boss, Mr. Pitt, to hold the Woody Woodpecker balloon.
- 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.
- In 2008, a Coca-Cola CGI ad aired in the United States during Super Bowl XLII. The commercial's plot centered around 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 from Miracle on 34th Street, I Love Lucy, Seinfeld and other media where the Macy's department store was mentioned). The commercial was also referenced in an episode of Family Guy. Stewie, who is one of the main characters in the show, is seen watching the parade only to see the balloon of himself in the parade.
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- 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.
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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 Archived February 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.. CBS press release (2008-11-13). Retrieved 2010-06-21.
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- Gioia, Michael (November 26, 2015). What Was It Like to Perform on the Macy's Parade? Over 20 Broadway Actors Remember a Dream Come True! Playbill. Retrieved November 26, 2015. “We pre-recorded the opening number of the show for the CBS broadcast, down on South Ferry.”—Carly Hughes
- "City to Change Route of Thanksgiving Day Parade". NY1 News. 10 April 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
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- Gaouette, Nicole (November 25, 2005). "NYC Parade Again Marred by Accident". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- Chan, Sewell (2005-11-27). "Site of Balloon Accident Is Known for Its Crosswinds". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- Martin, Douglas (1997-11-28). "Macy's Parade of Balloons Gets One Thing It Doesn't Need: Wind". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
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