Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Trivia
It may not be the equal of The Wizard of Oz, but the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a magical annual holiday season experience all its own. Even if you’ve never been to New York City, the Macy’s parade route travels through millions of US TV rooms once a year while Thanksgiving dinner preparation is usually well underway.
Never mind that this holiday event draws an estimated 50 million viewers every year. How about the 3.5 people who line the parade hoping for a quick peak of Santa, the numerous floats and balloons, and all the rest.
Here are some fun facts to help you enjoy the Macy’s parade even more.
Making its debut in 1924, the parade was held to celebrate the expansion of Macy’s flagship store. Claimed by Macy’s to be the world’s largest store at the time, it occupied one million square feet, spanning a full block from Broadway to Seventh Avenue.
While it is now a time-honored Thanksgiving Day tradition, the first parade took place just before Christmas.
The original parade route extended six miles and 111 blocks. Since then, it’s been condensed to a much more manageable two and a half miles.
In 1926 just prior to the third annual parade, the Allied Patriotic Societies called for its cancellation, claiming that it would prevent churchgoers from attending services. Percy Strauss, Macy’s associate, argued that there was plenty of time to attend services after the parade and the event was never shut down.
A group of talented float makers called “The Balloonatics” have been designing the floats and balloons since 1969. Segments of each float are packed into 12-by-8 foot boxes and transported through the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey to be reassembled at the parade staging site.
While it hasn’t happened since 1971, sometimes gusty winds can down a balloon during the parade. As such, each balloon has a team of handlers walking beneath it while a pilot walks ahead. The pilot’s job is to monitor weather conditions and instruct the handlers to control, and even deflate, the balloon if the need arises.
The parade went on a three-year hiatus when the U.S. entered World War II, prompted by the subsequent rubber and helium shortages. The 1942, 1943 and 1944 parades were canceled, and the balloons were donated to the U.S. government, providing 650 pounds of scrap rubber for the war effort.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at GBT Heating and Air Conditioning.