Growing up as a little boy in south St. Louis, one of the major television events that I enjoyed watching was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. I remember watching it in black and white and then during my college years in color. Even though I am much older today, it is an event that I always check out. My only regret is that I have never had the opportunity to observe it in person. Each year the average viewing of the parade on television is 44 million.
The parade began in 1924, when Macy’s employees decided to treat Manhattan to it’s very first Thanksgiving Parade. The parade included helium filled balloons that were released after the parade was over. In 1929, the balloons were designed so that would float for several days without exploding over the city. Then in 1934, Disney joined with Macy’s to make it a better parade. They introduced the first Mickey Mouse balloon. Between 1942 and 44, Macy’s donated all their rubber to the war effort. There was a need for rubber at the time. 1945 brought a very large and happy parade with the end of the war. It was televised for the first time in New York. In 1958, because of a shortage of helium, the balloons were suspended from large cranes. It was also about this time that some of the most popular balloons started to be introduced as well. Balloons like Snoopy, Bullwinkle, and Kermit became popular attractions for everyone. The Bi-Centennial was highlighted with the marching Minutemen in 1975-76.
There have also been many theatrical and dance teams that have performed in the parade in modern times as well.
The parade route runs from 77th Street and Central Park west. It proceeds to Columbus Circle and turns onto Broadway. It then turns west on 34th Street and goes past Macy’s Herald Square and ends at 7th Street. There is no public viewing from 34th to 38th street. The best place to view the parade is between 61st Street and 72nd Street.
If you get the opportunity, you can watch the balloons being inflated the day before. Viewing of this event is allowed between 3 and 10 pm. This is done on 77th and 81st Streets.
This years parade is scheduled for November 27th. It will be aired on NBC. The parade starts at 9 am sharp. It is recommended that you arrive early to get a good spot for viewing.
This years lineup includes many of the same balloon that have been featured in the past. Many of the floats that you will see are designed months before and have special artists, designers, and engineers working long hours to get them ready for viewing. There are many specifications that each float must pass through to be able to participate in the parade.
There have been some great televising hosts for the parade down through the years. Among the celebrities have been Lorne Greene, Betty White, Ed McMahon, Reggis Philbin, Bryant Gumbel, Willard Scott, Al Roker, Matt Lauer, Sandy Duncan, and Katie Couric.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is an event that the entire family can enjoy as they prepare to sit down for their annual feast. The color and pageantry is spectacular. The bands that perform along with the help of Broadway and show performers make it one of the best family viewing events on television. So this year on November 27th , take some time out of your hectic early morning rush and enjoy a part of American history. The 82nd Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.