By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® returned to full strength on Thursday, November 24 to usher in the holiday season. The 96th edition of Macy’s iconic spectacle got underway with the cheer 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Let’s Have A Parade™! During the course of the parade, hundreds of thousands of onlookers thrilled to see more than 5,000 volunteers, 16 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 40 novelty and heritage inflatables, 700 clowns, 12 marching bands and 10 performance groups, plus a host of musical stars and celebrities, climaxed with the arrival of the one-and-only Santa Claus on his grand sleigh.
“Since its first march in 1924 and through the decades, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has served to bring joy to the millions who gather nationwide each year to experience it with friends and family,” said Will Coss, Executive Producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, who cut the ribbon to launch the parade. “This November, as we once again set the stage for the start of the holiday season, we are thrilled to showcase another spectacle full of magic and wonder that will help create everlasting memories with loved ones during this special time of year.”
Stars on 34th Street
Arriving at 34st Street by float were Paula Abdul; Big Time Rush; Cam; Jordan Davis; Blue’s Clues & You! host Josh Dela Cruz; Gloria, Sasha and Emily Estefan; Jimmy Fallon & The Roots; Fitz and the Tantrums; Kirk Franklin; Mario Lopez and family; Ziggy Marley; Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles; the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street®; Sean Paul; the cast of Peacock’s Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin (Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland and Flula Borg); Joss Stone; Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Jordin Sparks; Dionne Warwick; Betty Who; and Santa Claus.
Conceived during the Parade’s infancy, the giant character balloons have become a signature of the annual celebration. Since 1927, the world’s most popular characters have been transformed into high-flying art in the sky. Originally inspired by marionettes, the Parade’s balloons first debuted as upside down puppets filled with air, which were carried down the Parade route on sticks. The design later evolved to include helium, making them high-flying giants. Over time Macy’s artists innovated creating several types of inflatables including balloonheads (inflated heads sitting atop of a costumed participant), balloonicles (hybrid inflatables with vehicles inside) and most recently, trycaloons (tandem tricycles with an inflated balloon character).
New giants joining the line-up this year included Bluey by BBC; Diary of A Wimpy Kid®by Abrams Books; DINO and Baby DINO by Sinclair Oil; and Stuart the Minion from Illumination.
Making return appearances to the skies above New York City were giant balloon favorites including Ada Twist, Scientist by Netflix; Astronaut Snoopy by PEANUTS Worldwide; The Boss Baby from DreamWorks Animation; Goku by Toei Animation; a Funko Pop!-inspired Grogu™ by Funko and in partnership with Lucasfilm;Chase from PAW Patrol®by Nickelodeon; Pillsbury Doughboy™by Pillsbury™; Red Titan from “Ryan’s World” by Sunlight Entertainment and pocket.watch; Ronald McDonald®by McDonald’s®USA; Papa Smurf from The Smurfs™by Nickelodeon; Pikachu™& Eevee™ by The Pokémon Company International; and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon.
The inflatable lineup also included a new balloonicle of Striker, the U.S. Soccer Star by FOX Sports. Returning inflatables include Sinclair’s Baby DINOs, the Go Bowling™balloonicles; Hot Air Dolly by Universal Orlando Resort, Smokey Bear by the USDA Forest Service; and Macy’s very own special reindeer Tiptoe and Toni the Bandleader Bear.
The Parade’s signature floats transported spectators to magical worlds. Conceived and crafted by the incredible artisans of Macy’s Parade Studio – a design and production facility that includes carpenters, engineers, electricians, painters, animators, balloon technicians, sculptors, metal fabricators, scenic and costume designers – this year’s line-up of floats showcased the animated theatricality that the Macy’s Parade has become world-famous for.
This year five new floats debuted in the Turkey Day celebration, carrying performers: Baby Shark by Pinkfong and Nickelodeon (Ziggy Marley); Geoffrey’s Dazzling Dance Party by Toys“R”Us (Jordin Sparks); People of First Light by Macy’s; Supersized Slumber by Netflix (Ballet Hispánico); and The Wondership by Wonder (Cam).
The returning float roster and its scheduled performers included 1-2-3 Sesame Street®by Sesame Workshop™ (The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street); Big City Cheer by Spirit of America Productions (Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles); Big Turkey Spectacular by Jennie-O (Paula Abdul); Birds of a Feather Stream Together by Peacock® (Adam Devine, Sarah Hyland and Flula Borg); Blue’s Clues & You! by Nickelodeon (Josh Dela Cruz); The Brick-changer by The LEGO® Group (Fitz and the Tantrums); Celebration Gator by the Louisiana Office of Tourism (Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue); Christmas in Town Square by Lifetime® (Kirk Franklin); Colossal Wave of Wonder by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions (Sean Paul); Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill® (Gloria, Sasha and Emily Estefan); Elf Pets®by The Lumistella Company®; Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop by Entenmann’s®; Fantasy Chocolate Factory by Kinder™ (Big Time Rush); Harvest in the Valley by Green Giant® (Jordan Davis); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown by Hallmark Channel (Joss Stone); Her Future is STEM-Sational by Olay (Betty Who); Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree (Macy’s Choir); Magic Meets the Sea by Disney Cruise Line (Captain Minnie Mouse and Friends); Santa’s Sleigh (Santa Claus); Snoopy’s Doghouse by PEANUTS Worldwide; Tom Turkey (Mario Lopez and family); Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life (Dionne Warwick); and Winter Wonderland in Central Park (Jimmy Fallon & The Roots).
Strike Up the Band
Bringing the beat to the holiday revelry were some of the most gifted marching ensembles in the country: Benedict College (Columbia, SC), Bourbon County High School (Paris, KY), Carmel High School (Carmel, IN), Clovis North Educational Center (Fresno, CA), Delfines Marching Band (Veracruz, Mexico), Macy’s Great American Marching Band (United States), NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY), The Queer Big Apple Corps (New York, NY), South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD), Tarpon Springs High School (Tarpon Springs, FL), University of Missouri (Columbia, MO), and Vandegrift High School (Austin, TX).
This year’s lineup of performance groups featured the dazzling dancers of Ballet Hispánico, the hilarious Big Apple Circus, the rhythmic movement of Boss Kids, the artistry of the Fusion Winter Guard, two-steps and high kicks from the Kilgore Rangerettes, the puppeteering skills of Phantom Limb, the iconic stepping of The Sigma Gamma Rho Centennial Steppers, the energetic moves of the St. John’s Dance Team, and the exuberance of Spirit of America Cheer and Spirit of America Dance Stars.
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Spectators lined the parade route from its traditional starting line at 77th Street and Central Park West, down its signature 2.5-mile route from Central Park West to Columbus Circle, turning onto Central Park South and then marching down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas. At 34th Street, the Parade made its final turn west to end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.
The crowds erupted with delight as Santa Claus came to town.
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