It's time for the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Stick your turkey in the oven and kick back to watch one of America's longest running classic holiday events.
What’s the history of the parade?
The parade first began in 1924 but originally was celebrated on Christmas Day and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. After switching to Thanksgiving, the annual event was put on hold for two years during World War Two with balloons deflated and donated to the government to support the country’s war effort. Approximately 650 pounds of rubber were donated from the parade.
Amid the floats, balloons and marching bands, the parade always includes Macy’s employees as well as their family and friends. This year there will be around 8,000 people participating in the parade. Over 50 million people watch the parade across the U.S. and over 3.5 million gather along the route in New York City every year.
When did balloons start floating above New York?
Balloons first made their parade debut in 1927 with Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse joined in 1934. Helium was introduced in 1929 and lucky residents who found the balloons after they floated down and deflated could return them to Macy's stores and receive a $50 gift card. The parade even coined its own term for floats with balloons on them: falloons. Snoopy and Woodstock from the Charlie Brown series have proven to be the most popular balloon characters over the parade’s history and they will make their 38th appearance this year.
Since the 1920s and 1930s, Spider-Man and SpongeBob balloons have towered above Manhattan’s streets for years, but getting them up there to glide takes an entire team. The public can see how it all comes together Nov. 25 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the balloon inflation areas around the Museum of Natural History. Enter the area at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue.
This year’s parade will feature four new balloons and six new floats with Angry Birds and the squirrel from the move “Ice Age” set to make their debuts. No company logos or writing are allowed on the balloons.
What is the parade route?
The parade begins on Central Park West at 77th Street and runs along the park before turning down 6th Avenue. The parade ends at Herald Square in front of the Macy’s department store. Some of the best spots to view the parade along its route include near the beginning of the route, at Columbus Circle from inside the Time Warner Center and between 59th Street and 38th Street. With all of the equipment and live broadcasting in and around Herald Square, Macy’s does not recommend trying to view the parade in that area.
What time does the broadcast begin?
The parade was first nationally broadcast in 1947 and this year will be broadcast from 9 a.m. EST until noon on NBC with Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker from the network’s “Today” show anchoring the broadcast.