Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Official 2014 88th Annual Parade poster
Presented by Present:
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)
Composer(s) Macy's
Brad Lachman Productions[1]
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
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
(with commercials)
Original network NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original release November 24, 1927 (1927-11-24) – November 22, 1951 (1951-11-22) (radio)
November 25, 1948 (1948-11-25)–present (television)
Related shows Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
Macy's Ballonfest
My Macy's Holiday Parade
Lighting of the Macy's Great Tree
Christmas in Rockefeller Center[1]
External links
Santa Claus' arrival at the parade's finale marks the start of the Christmas season.
A balloon being inflated by the Steven's Inflation Crew during training at Giants Stadium.

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,[2] 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.


The former Macy's Parade logo (used until 2005, with a special edition variant being used in the 2006 Parade).
The Macy's Parade logo used in 2006. Balloons, from left: Uncle Sam, Tom Turkey, Macy's Star, Gnome, Toy Soldier, Chloe the Clown.

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] Address labels were sewn into them, so that whoever found and mailed back the discarded balloon received a gift from Macy's.[5]

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,[6] and resumed in 1945, running through 1951.[7]

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.[8][9] 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).[10]

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.

In 2007, the journal Puppetry International published a first person account of being a balloon handler.[11]

Balloon introductions

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.

Year Balloons
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;,[12]
1935 The Marx Brothers (after Zeppo Marx's departure), Donald Duck
1937 Dragon, Christmas Stocking
1938 Uncle Sam
1940 The Tin Man, Pinocchio, Santa Claus
1940 Hippo, Superman
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)
1949 Toy soldier
1950 The Dachshund
1951 Lucky Pup, Mighty Mouse, Flying fish
1954 Spaceman
1957 Popeye
1960 Happy Dragon
1961 Bullwinkle J. Moose
1962 Donald Duck (2nd version)
1963 Dino, Elsie the Cow
1964 Linus the Lionhearted
1965 Underdog
1966 Smokey Bear, Superman (2nd version)
1968 Aviator Snoopy
1969 Astronaut Snoopy (2nd version, a tribute to Apollo 11)
1972 Smile (Happy Face), Mickey Mouse (2nd version)
1975 Weeble
1977 Kermit the Frog
1980 Superman (3rd version, largest balloon to appear in parade)
1982 Olive Oyl, Woody Woodpecker
1983 Yogi Bear
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,[13] 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
1989 Bugs 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),[13] 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;[14] 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.

Year Falloon/balloonicle
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 (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)

Float introductions

Year Floats
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
1991 Rock-A-Doodle
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,[15] 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.

Featured performers

Year Performers
2003 Hilary Duff, Kelly Clarkson, Michael Bolton, Clay Aiken, Kristin Chenoweth, Ruben Studdard, Kool and the Gang, Stacie Orrico and Idina Menzel.
2004 Barenaked Ladies, Fantasia Barrino, Andrea Bocelli, Ryan Cabrera, Peter Cetera, Gavin DeGraw, José Feliciano, Tamyra Gray, Nina Sky, Raven-Symoné, Brooke Shields, Jeff Timmons, and Hayley Westenra
2005 Adrien Brody, Harry Connick Jr., LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood, The Beach Boys, Rihanna, Aaron Neville, Brian McKnight, Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Coolidge, Puffy AmiYumi and Michael Feinstein
2006 Julie Andrews, Laurie Berkner, Chris Brown, RBD, Cheyenne, Ciara, Miley Cyrus, Diana DeGarmo, Gloria Estefan, Renee Fleming, Big Apple Circus, Natalie Grant, Hall & Oates, High School Musical cast, Jonas Brothers, Josh Kelley, Darlene Love, Barry Manilow, Sarah McLachlan, Tara Conner, Sandi Patty, John Tartaglia, Ali Larter, Denise Van Outen, and Connie Britton
2007 Ashley Tisdale, Bindi Irwin, Terri Irwin, Corbin Bleu, Dolly Parton, Good Charlotte, Jonas Brothers, Lifehouse, Menudo, Ne-Yo, Nikki Blonsky, Sarah Brightman, Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele, Wynonna Judd, and Jordin Sparks
2008 Kristin Chenoweth, Darius Rucker, James Taylor, Charice Pempengco, Miranda Cosgrove, Miley Cyrus, David Archuleta, Shontelle, Idina Menzel, Rick Astley (as part of a Rickroll during the parade), Ashanti, Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr., Faith Hill, Beyoncé, Push Play, and The Clique Girlz
2009 Tiffany Thornton, Kermit the Frog, Keke Palmer, Andrea Bocelli, Bello Nock, Big Apple Circus, Boys Like Girls, Alan Cumming, Billy Currington, Yo Gabba Gabba! cast, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), Gloria Gaynor, Emily Hughes, Jane Krakowski, Katharine McPhee, Sesame Street cast, Mitchel Musso, Pizzarelli Quartet, Jay Sean, Ziggy Marley, and Carly Simon
2010 Kylie Minogue, Carrie Underwood, Kanye West, Jessica Simpson, Gladys Knight, India.Arie, Big Time Rush, Big Apple Circus, Arlo Guthrie, Betty Buckley, Ann Hampton Callaway, Miranda Cosgrove, Isabella Collins, Gloriana, Michael Grimm, Juanes, Keri Hilson, Eric Hutchinson, Victoria Justice, Mannheim Steamroller, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), Sesame Street cast and Muppets, Kyle Swann, Rima Fakih, the cast of Power Rangers Samurai, Crystal Shawanda, Joan Rivers, and Melissa Rivers
2011 The Cast of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Rodney Atkins, Big Apple Circus, Mary J. Blige, Cobra Starship, Neil Diamond, Michael Feinstein, The Fresh Beat Band, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne, Shelby Lynne, Mannheim Steamroller, China Anne McClain, Scotty McCreery, Ingrid Michaelson, Sesame Street cast and Muppets, Savannah Outen, the cast of Power Rangers Samurai, Daniel Radcliffe, Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, Willard Scott, Sarah Smithson, Straight No Chaser, United States Naval Academy Glee Club, Johnny Weir, Zendaya and the Nickelodeon Queens
2012 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Trace Adkins, Flo Rida, the Big Apple Circus, Colbie Caillat, Teresa Castillo, Rachel Crow, Thirza Defoe, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Isaak, Carly Rae Jepsen, Karmin, Christian Laettner, Sandra Lee, Mannheim Steamroller, Jennette McCurdy, Don McLean, Megan & Liz, Olivia Culpo, the cast of Sesame Street, Neon Trees, the cast of Power Rangers Megaforce, Cody Simpson, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber, PS22 Chorus, The Wanted, Geoffrey Zakarian, and The Kidz Bop Kids.
2013 The cast of NBC's The Sound of Music Live!, Debby Ryan, Big Apple Circus, Cherokee National Youth Choir, the cast of The Sunny Side Up Show, Cirque du Soleil, Gavin DeGraw, Brett Eldredge, Fall Out Boy, The Summer Set, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), the cast of Sesame Street, Fifth Harmony, Florida Georgia Line, Goo Goo Dolls, Ariana Grande, Jack Hanna, Megan Hilty, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Sandra Lee, Cher Lloyd, Austin Mahone, Richard Simmons, Mannheim Steamroller, Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, Bart Oates, Amani Toomer and Hines Ward; Cam Neely and Mike Richter, Kristin Chenoweth, Kellie Pickler, and the cast of Duck Dynasty
2014 The cast of NBC's Peter Pan Live!, Renee Fleming, William Blake, Idina Menzel, Before You Exit, Becky G, MKTO, Needtobreathe, Sabrina Carpenter, Lucy Hale, KISS, Cole Swindell, Nick Jonas, The Madden Brothers, Quvenzhané Wallis, The Vamps, Meghan Trainor, Nia Sanchez, Romeo Santos and Pentatonix.
2015 The cast of NBC's The Wiz Live!, Jordin Sparks, the cast of Sesame Street with Questlove, Trey Songz, Jake Owen, Andy Grammer, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T's, Shawn Mendes, Cirque du Soleil's Dreamseeker, Mipso, Daughtry, Sprout cast, Andra Day, Big Apple Circus, Sofia Carson, Rachel Platten, Prince Royce, the cast of School of Rock, MercyMe, Jennifer Nettles, Train, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo and Mariah Carey
2016 The cast of NBC's Hairspray Live! Brett Eldredge, Chloe and Halle, Daya, De La Soul, Easton Corbin, Fitz and The Tantrums, Jacob Whitesides, Kelsea Ballerini, 2016 Olympic Medalist Laurie Hernandez, Mikey Brannigan, Gianfranco Iannotta, Hannah McFadden, Tatyana McFadden, & Claressa Shields, Maddie and Tae, Aloe Blacc, Ben Rector, Regina Spektor, Lunchmoney Lewis, The Muppets, Grace VanderWaal, Tony Bennett, Timeflies, Michelle Carter, Sarah McLachlan, Diamante Electrico, and Johnnyswim

Broadway shows

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.

Year Performances
1980 The Pirates of Penzance
1984 The Tap Dance Kid
1989 Meet Me in St. Louis
1991 Miss Saigon
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 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
2015 On Your Feet!, The King and I, Finding Neverland, Something Rotten!, Fiddler on the Roof, School of Rock
2016 TBA

Marching bands

Year Performances
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; New York City Police Department 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
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 Marching Band, 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 and Bugle Corps Anniversary Corps, Madison, Wisconsin; New York City Police Department Marching Band, New York; Western Carolina University Marching Band, Cullowhee, North Carolina
2015 Macy's Great American Marching Band; Stephen F. Austin State University Marching Band, Nacogdoches, Texas; Cavalier Marching Band (University of Virginia), Charlottesville, Virginia; New York City Police Department Marching Band, New York; Gulf Coast High School Marching Band, Naples, Florida; Walled Lake Central High School Viking Marching Band, Walled Lake, Michigan; Munford High School Marching Band, Munford, Tennessee; Nogales High School Noble Regiment Marching Band, La Puente, California; Lewis Cass High School Marching Band, Walton, Indiana; New York City Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes & Drums, New York; North Hardin High School Marching Band, Radcliff, Kentucky; West Chester University Marching Band, West Chester, Pennsylvania; Marching Illini (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign), Champaign, Illinois
2016 TBA

Special guests

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.

Television coverage

Tom the Turkey and Underdog arriving at Macy's Herald Square during the 1979 edition of the parade.

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.[16] 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.[17][18] The parade began its network television appearances on CBS in 1948, the year that regular television network programming began.[19][20] 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.[21] 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,[22] 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.[23] The event began to be broadcast in color in 1960.[24] 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.[21]

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.[25]

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.

Radio coverage is provided by CBS Radio-owned WINS (1010 AM) in New York City. It is one of the few times throughout the year in which that station breaks away from its all-news radio format.

In 2016, Verizon produced a 360-degree virtual reality live telecast of the parade, with minimal commentary, made available through Youtube.[26]

Parade route

The Parade has always taken place in Manhattan. The parade originally started from 145th Street in Harlem and ended at Herald Square, making a 6-mile (9.7 km) 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.[27] 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.[28]

Incidents and injuries

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.[30] 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 popular culture



  1. 1 2 "Portfolio of Brad Lachman-produced programs". Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  2. Grippo, Robert (2004). Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. San Francisco, CA: Arcadia Publishing. p. 9.
  3. Grippo, Robert M.; Hoskins, Christopher (2003). Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Charlestown, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7385-3562-3.
  4. Sweet, Melissa. Balloons Over Broadway; The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2011. Print
  5. 1 2
  6. WOR schedule, "Today on the Radio", The New York Times Nov. 24, 1932, p. 40. "R adio Today", The New York Times, Nov. 20, 1999, p. 54.
  7. "Radio Today", The New York Times, Nov. 22, 1945, p. 36. "On the Radio", The New York Times, Nov. 22, 1957, p. 58.
  8. "Mayor Plays Role of Dragon Slayer", The New York Times, Nov. 14, 1942, p. 17.
  9. "Get Set, Children, and Your Parents, Too; Genii Are Coming in Thanksgiving Parade", The New York Times, Nov. 14, 2010, p. 27.
  10. Firm Flying High With Order for 4 Giant Macy's Parade Balloons – Los Angeles Times. (1987-11-25). Retrieved on 2013-12-06.
  11. 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
  12. New York Daily News (2008-11-28). "Floating back in time with Macy's balloons". Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  13. 1 2 "Spider-Man Returning to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Paradede", Associated Press via WCBS (AM), 17 August 2009 Archived November 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. Snider, Mike (October 1, 2015). "Angry Bird balloon to take flight in annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade". USA Today. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  15. 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."
  16. "Television" section of "Today on the Radio", The New York Times, November 23, 1939, p. 40.
  17. "Radio Today" (with television listings), The New York Times, Nov. 20, 1941, p. 54.
  18. "Radio Today" (with television listings), The New York Times, Nov. 22, 1945, p. 36.
  19. "Radio and Television", The New York Times, November 15, 1948, p. 44.
  20. "Radio and Television", The New York Times, November 21, 1949, p. 44.
  21. 1 2 "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.
  22. "Television", The New York Times, November 23, 1961, p. 71.
  23. "Television", The New York Times, November 27, 1969, p. 75.
  24. "Television", The New York Times, November 24, 1960, p. 67.
  25. 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
  27. "City to Change Route of Thanksgiving Day Parade". NY1 News. 10 April 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
  28. Universal Studios, Orlando: Theme Parks, Attractions, Accommodations Archived December 17, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. "Macy's 70th Sails On Buoyantly". New York Times. 1996-11-29. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  30. 1 2 3 4 Gaouette, Nicole (November 25, 2005). "NYC Parade Again Marred by Accident". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  31. Chan, Sewell (2005-11-27). "Site of Balloon Accident Is Known for Its Crosswinds". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  32. 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.
  33. "Macy's presents safer parade". CNN. 1998-11-26. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  34. "New safety rules for NYC Thanksgiving parade after balloon crash". Associated Press. Retrieved 2006-10-18.

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