There are many famous traditions synonymous with New York City, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is at the top of that list. The first parade marched down Broadway in the winter of 1924, and in the years since, it’s grown into an event with more than 3.5 million spectators. The parade is also televised on both NBC and CBS and boasts a whopping 50 million viewers. And like any long-standing NYC institutions, the history behind the festivities and larger-than-life balloons is certainly interesting.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Felix the Cat 1927 – first balloon in Macy’s Parade
In 1927, three years after its first incarnation, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade replaced its live animals with balloons designed by marionette maker Anthony Frederick Sarg and made by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (more on that here). The first such animal-shaped balloon was Felix the Cat, and after a nearly 90-year hiatus, the Times reports that he’s returning to the parade this year.
The 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be held on Thursday and several streets will be closed as thousands of spectators come out to see the parade. In order to get the best view, it is advised that you get to the parade location as early as 6 a.m. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. at 77th Street and Central Park West. It will travel 2.5 miles and end at Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street. Macy’s has also setup a fun and interactive website that provides detailed information about this year’s parade, including where to watch, this year’s lineup, and a timeline showing past parades in New York City.
New Yorker Spotlight: Behind the Magic of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with Creative Director Wesley Whatley, Wed, November 26, 2014
For one day each year, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade transforms the streets of New York City into the ultimate stage for marching bands, dancers, floats, and of course, giant balloons. As we can all imagine, putting on a parade of this magnitude is no small task. And that’s where Wesley Whatley, the Parade’s creative director, comes in.
Wesley is responsible for overseeing, developing and bringing the creative side of the event to life. His role requires vision, organization and a deep understanding of the parade’s history and its importance to both the city and America. Along with his team, he ensures it’s a magical event for spectators and television viewers.
In anticipation of tomorrow’s parade, we spoke with Wesley about selecting marching bands and performers, the logistics of organizing such a large event, and, on a personal note, what parades mean to him.
You may not wake up early enough tomorrow to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but we bet you know these balloon characters anyway. 10 of those famous helium-filled stars were matched up with “their” NYC neighborhood. Guess which character belongs in each neighborhood in this fun Buzzfeed quiz!
Daily Link Fix: Vintage Photos of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; De Robertis Caffé Closing after 110 Years, Tue, November 25, 2014
- Check out these amazing vintage photos of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. [Wired]
- Why not make your holiday gifts this year? Here’s six arts and crafts classes that won’t break the bank. [Brokelyn]
- After 110 years as an East Village staple, De Robertis Caffé will close on December 5th. [Bedford + Bowery]
- Hate schlepping to Ikea? Check out these furnished apartments. [Taylor Made]
- The world’s most expensive gingerbread house costs $78,000 and comes with real rubies and pearls. [Daily News]