A Historic Procession: The World-Famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® Celebrates 90 Years as the Official Start to the Holiday Season
The 90th Anniversary Spectacle is Set to Feature a Host of Surprises Along With Its Signature Helium Character Balloons, Floats of Wonder, the Nation’s Finest Marching Bands, Enthralling Performance Groups, Celebrity Appearances and the One-and-Only Santa Claus
November 01, 2016 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
A Historic Procession: The world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrates 90 years as the official start of the holiday season (Graphic: Business Wire)
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--This November, America’s favorite holiday tradition will mark a milestone anniversary, once again kicking off the holidays with its signature brand of magical entertainment. On Thursday, Nov. 24, the 90th Macy’s (NYSE:M) Thanksgiving Day Parade® will march down the streets of New York City as millions celebrate with family and friends. The unparalleled spectacle is set to enthrall more than 3.5 million spectators lining the streets of Manhattan and more than 50 million viewers on television, with a host of giant character balloons, dazzling floats, the nation’s best marching bands and performance groups, celebrities, and the official entrance of the one-and-only Santa Claus.
“Since our historic first march in 1924, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a call to celebration. Over the years, generations have gathered to enjoy the spectacle of high-flying balloons, fantasy floats, incredible performers, and the one-and-only Santa Claus, as the annual march became synonymous with the start of the holiday season,” said Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “This year, as we celebrate 90 years of magical moments, we are truly humbled by the unique role the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade fills in the lives of millions worldwide, and we are thrilled to celebrate this special milestone with a spectacular line-up filled with amazing new and commemorative elements that will continue our storied legacy of unparalleled holiday entertainment.”
Since its origin in 1924, the Macy’s Parade has marked the official start of the holiday season, introducing a cherished march of magic that has dazzled generations of fans. For the 90th edition, the famed spectacle’s line-up will feature 16 giant character balloons; 27 novelty/ornament balloons, balloonicles and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 16 marching bands and performance groups.
For nine decades, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a march like no other. Bringing generations an unrivaled procession filled with more than 8,000 volunteer participants dressed as clowns, strutting their stuff in a marching band or escorting the Parade’s signature giant inflatables and floats of fantasy into the hearts of millions. Originally known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade, the tradition was started by Macy’s employees who wanted to celebrate the holiday season with a grand pageant similar to the over-the-top carnivals and festivals of Europe. The first Parade featured fanciful floats, employee marching bands, clown groups and real animals from the Central Park Zoo. Stretching from Harlem at 145th Street and Convent Avenue down more than five miles to Macy’s Herald Square, the first event was such a success that it was deemed by Macy’s to be an annual event from that point forward. While many elements have grown and been adapted over time, the heart of the Parade has always involved Macy’s own employee volunteers, talented marching bands and dazzling floats – elements that have paved the way for imagination and grand spectacle. One of those jaw-dropping additions came in 1927. Replacing the live animals who some said scared children along the route, the Parade introduced its first inflatables, debuting four giant balloons filled with air and carried on sticks down the route. That inaugural balloon line-up included the first-ever, character-based balloon featuring the likeness of famed animated film star, Felix the Cat. To make the balloons lighter than air, the following year, helium was added, helping the giants float down the route.
Since its inception, the Parade has marched during tumultuous periods in our collective history. Only one event has ever caused the cancelation of the Parade and that was World War II. During a three-year period from 1941 until 1943, the event was put on hold due to the rationing of supplies such as rubber and helium and a moratorium on large public gatherings. After its brief hiatus, the Parade returned and grew in worldwide fame becoming even more synonymous with the holiday season after its starring role in the 1947 film classic, “Miracle on 34th Street.”
In celebration of this year’s 90th march, Macy’s will look back at the Parade’s starring role as a generational hit with audiences via a heartwarming television commercial debuting in mid-November. Produced by Macy’s and BBH NY, the spot, directed by Noam Murro, follows a young boy from his first Macy’s Parade experience through to his 90th year, as the Parade plays a special role in his life. The touching story showcases how this world-famous, larger-than-life event has created long lasting personal connections with generations as it continues to bring families together in celebration. Featuring the Parade through the decades, the mini film tells the story of two old friends as it invites viewers to Believe! “Old Friends: A Tribute to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” can be viewed on Macy’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/Macys.
As the Parade gears up to take its 90th march down the streets of Manhattan, very special guests will take to the streets like they’ve taken the world by storm for decades. The iconic Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the rest of the Muppets will dazzle and delight millions of fans as they kick off the celebration as only they can, with their signature musical and comedic revelry. Joining executive producer Amy Kule at the head of the Parade as she cuts the ribbon opening the march, will be U.S. Paralympic stars Tatyana and Hannah McFadden.
The 90th procession will feature a star-studded cast that will celebrate the holiday with America, giving fans along the route a thrilling moment with their favorite performers, along with providing the nation with first-class performances. Joining the festivities this year are Kelsea Ballerini; Tony Bennett; Aloe Blacc; Chloe x Halle; Easton Corbin; Daya; De La Soul; Diamante Eléctrico; Brett Eldredge; Fitz & the Tantrums; Christopher Jackson; Johnnyswim; Sandra Lee; Maddie & Tae; Sarah McLachlan; NHL legends Adam Graves and Eric Lindros; Ben Rector; Regina Spektor; the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street; Sprout’s Chica; Timeflies; U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Michelle Carter, Laurie Hernandez and Claressa Shields; U.S. Paralympic Gold Medalists Mikey Brannigan, Gianfranco Iannotta; Grace VanderWaal; and Jacob Whitesides, among others.
The Parade’s signature giant character balloons have showcased the world’s most beloved cultural characters since the late 1920’s. Evolving from a simple paper sketch to giant wonders on Thanksgiving morning, the balloons are transformed by Macy’s “Balloonatics” into high-flying art.
This year, three new giant characters will take center stage including the return of Peanuts loveable blockhead Charlie Brown and a colorful and whimsical Diary of A Wimpy Kid®, as well as the debut of the stars of DreamWorks’ Trolls in a multi-character balloon.
The balloon line-up will also feature the return of the Parade’s first balloon star as DreamWorks Animation’s Felix the Cat. Designed and built using the same methods from the late 1920s, Felix will make his way down the route as he first appeared, carried on sticks, mimicking his debut appearance in 1927.
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS - NICKELODEON. - Everyone's favorite pineapple dwelling sea sponge, SpongeBob SquarePants joins the Thanksgiving celebration, donning a festive holiday chapeau, in his second Parade balloon. Balloon Dimensions: 41-feet long, 34-feet wide, 44-feet tall. Fun Fact: SpongeBob SquarePants' hat has a 5-foot white brim and a 6-foot diameter "jingle bell."
Returning giant balloon characters Angry Birds’ Red; Sinclair Oil’s Dino™; The Elf on the Shelf®; Hello Kitty®; Ice Age’s Scrat and his Acorn; PADDINGTON™; Pikachu™; Pillsbury™ Doughboy™; Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger; Ronald McDonald®; Skylanders® Eruptor; SpongeBob SquarePants; and Thomas the Tank Engine®. The returning balloonicles (a Macy’s Parade hybrid of cold-air balloon and vehicle) include the famed-spokesduck The Aflac Duck.
RED MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGER - SABAN. As the largest Power Ranger in the world, the iconic Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger takes his second flight over the streets of New York, defending the world and captivating fans on Thanksgiving Day. Balloon Dimensions: 78-feet long, 26-feet wide, 56-feet tall. Fun Fact: The larger than life Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger is the longest balloon in the Parade. Just one of his arms is the size of a standard school bus!
The late 1960s saw a creative renaissance for the Parade, following the establishment of Macy’s Parade Studio. Home to incredible artists including carpenters, painters, animators, metal fabricators, scenic/costume designers and electricians, the Studio team took over the primary task of design, construction and maintenance of the Parade’s elements, previously done through a combination of external resources and internal talent. For more than four decades, Macy’s Studio was housed in an old Tootsie Roll factory in Hoboken, New Jersey, before moving to a new state-of-the-art facility in 2011, where the team continues to evolve the designs of the larger-than-life elements. Macy’s floating wonders create a collection of magical delights that dazzle and transport spectators. The painstaking process of creating a Macy’s Parade float is both a creative and technical endeavor. Macy’s Parade floats are often three stories tall and several lanes of traffic wide, but must collapse to no more than 12 ½-feet tall and 8-feet wide in order to safely travel from the New Jersey studio to the Manhattan starting line via the Lincoln Tunnel.
This year, four new floats will debut including The Aloha Spirit by King’s Hawaiian®, Building A Better World by Girl Scouts of the USA, Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill®, and Fun House by Krazy Glue®.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES - NICKELODEON. Macy's and Nickelodeon have teamed up to bring back the crime battling quartet, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are once again called upon to make sure the city and the Parade are safe from their infamous nemesis Shredder. Float Facts: Against a spectacular dark cityscape, the float depicts roof tops, fire escapes, city window ledges and a zip line down the wires of telephone poles.
The returning float roster includes 1-2-3 Sesame Street; At the Ball Game (Cracker Jack®); Big Apple (New York Daily News); Big City Cheer! (Spirit of America Productions); China’s Chengdu – Home of the Giant Panda (Sino-American Friendship Association); The Colonel’s Road Trip to NYC (Kentucky Fried Chicken); The Cranberry Cooperative (Ocean Spray®); Discover Adventure! (Build-A-Bear®); Free to Play (Sprout®); Frozen Fall Fun (Discover®); Girl-Powered Spinning Machine (GoldieBlox®); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown (Hallmark Channel); It’s All Rock & Roll (Gibson Brands®); Mount Rushmore’s American Pride (South Dakota Department of Tourism); On The Roll Again (Homewood Suites by Hilton®); Santa’s Sleigh; Snoopy’s Doghouse (Peanuts Worldwide); Stirrin’ Up Sweet Sensations (Domino® Sugar); Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon); Tom Turkey; Treasure Hunt (Pirate’s Booty®); and Winter Wonderland In Central Park (Delta Air Lines).
Marching bands are a central piece of the Thanksgiving delights, bringing national excitement and hometown pride to the streets of the Big Apple, not to mention the musical beat to the holiday revelry. Twelve performance ensembles will take up the call of the baton and march down the streets of Manhattan. They include: Cary Senior High School (Cary, NC); Grain Valley High School (Grain Valley, Missouri); Greendale High School (Greendale, WI); Harrison High School (Kennesaw, GA); Hendrickson High School (Pflugerville, TX); Joe E. Newsome High School (Lithia, FL); Macy’s Great American Marching Band (United States), led by 11-year-old junior drum major from Shaw University Timmy Richardson; Na Koa Ali`l Hawaii All-State Marching Band (Hawaii); NYPD Marching Band (New York, ); Prospect High School (Prospect, IL); The United States Military Academy Band (West Point); and The West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band (Morgantown, WV).
Specialty Parade entertainment always promises a unique, exciting, and sometimes humorous look at the nation’s finest performance groups. This year’s special groups include the high kicking Kilgore Rangerettes (Kilgore, TX), the dance stars of the world-renowned in-school arts education program, National Dance Institute (New York), the Armenian folk dance group Sayat Nova Dance Company (Boston) and the Tap Dancing Christmas Trees (Alameda, CA). Completing the performance groups are the Spirit of America Cheer and the Spirit of America Dance Stars, which both feature 550 of the nation’s best cheerleaders and most thrilling dancers.
The nation’s biggest and most anticipated Thanksgiving celebration, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, is broadcast nationally on NBC, with millions of families nationwide tuning in to watch the excitement unfold. This year, the TODAY Show’s Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker will host the three-hour broadcast from 9 a.m. – noon (in all time zones). In addition, Telemundo will simulcast the Parade in Spanish with the event hosted by stars Jessica Carrillo and Carlos Ponce. Joining the Parade, as a signature element kicking off the holiday season, will be the world-famous Radio City Rockettes®. The national broadcast would not be complete without showcasing the best theatrical productions. Set for a 34th Street performances will be Holiday Inn, and more of Broadway’s best. In addition, viewers will get a sneak preview performance from NBC’s Hairspray Live!, which premieres Wednesday, Dec. 7 (8 p.m. ET/PT).
The magic of the Parade can be experienced across the country, as the 90th anniversary celebration extends to fans from coast-to-coast. In early November, the Macy’s Parade Time Traveler app, available for free on the iTunes® App Store or from Google Play, will allow fans the opportunity to interact with history as they experience the magic of the Parade from three different eras. With the app installed, fans can use their smartphone’s camera to transport themselves to Parade’s past from the 1930s, 1960s and 1980s in amazing live-action virtual reality. In addition, the app will allow fans to take a selfie in the past, and create their own Parade by collecting historic, virtual balloons at Macy’s stores across the country.
In addition to the time-traveling app, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade stickers app, available for free today from the iTunes App Store or from Google Play, or through messaging platforms including Tango, Paltalk® and Blackberry® Messenger, will add a dose of Parade whimsy to text messages this holiday season.
The celebration extends to fun gifts available at select Macy’s stores and on macys.com, including a spectacular photography retrospective book Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: A New York City Tradition (Rizzoli New York), Macy’s Parade pajamas, collectibles, and more.
For an insider’s look at the holiday procession, fans nationwide should check macys.com/parade for regular updates including behind the scenes previews, interactive historical information, and more.
The 90th Anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will begin at 9 a.m. from 77th Street and Central Park West. The procession will march to Columbus Circle, turn onto Central Park South and march down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street. At 34th Street, the Parade will make its final turn west and end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square. “A Holiday Treat for Children Everywhere” has been the guiding motto of this annual tradition for more than nine decades and is one which continues to this day. It’s time to celebrate with America’s Parade – 5,4,3,2,1, … Let’s Have A Parade!
For more information on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, please visit www.macys.com/parade or call the Parade hotline at 212-494-4495. Follow @macys and join the conversation at #MacysParade on various social networks.