Photo Highlights: Holiday Season Officially Underway, With Arrival of Santa at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The 96th edition of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® got underway with 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 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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.

Will Coss, Executive Producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, cuts the ribbon to launch the  96th edition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 “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.”

 
Mario Lopez and family ride in the iconic turkey float that leads the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade down Central Park West to 34th Street  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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.

Mario Lopez and family ride in the iconic turkey float that leads the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade down Central Park West to 34th Street  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Ballooning Icons

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).

Diary of A Wimpy Kid® by Abrams Books © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
New giants joining the line-up this year included Bluey by BBC © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
DINO and Baby DINO by Sinclair Oil © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Stuart the Minion from Illumination © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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.

A Funko Pop!-inspired Grogu™ by Funko and in partnership with Lucasfilm © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The classic Pillsbury Doughboy by Pillsbury © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Boss Baby from DreamWorks Animation © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Making return appearances to the skies above New York City were giant balloon favorites including Ada TwistScientist 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 Doughboyby PillsburyRed Titan from “Ryan’s World” by Sunlight Entertainment and pocket.watch; Ronald McDonald®by McDonald’s®USA; Papa Smurf from The Smurfsby Nickelodeon; Pikachu& Eevee™ by The Pokémon Company International; and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon.

Ada TwistScientist by Netflix © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is famous for its giant balloons, a signature of the event since 1927 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Goku by Toei Animation © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Smokey Bear by the USDA Forest Service © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Ronald McDonald® by McDonald’s®USA © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Astronaut Snoopy by PEANUTS Worldwide © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Papa Smurf from The Smurfsby Nickelodeon
Red Titan from “Ryan’s World” by Sunlight Entertainment and pocket.watch;

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 Bowlingballoonicles; 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 inflatable lineup also included a new balloonicle of Striker, the U.S. Soccer Star by FOX Sports, in honor of the US Mens Team playing at the World Cup in Qatar © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The inflatable lineup also included a new balloonicle of Striker, the U.S. Soccer Star by FOX Sports, in honor of the US Mens Team playing at the World Cup in Qatar © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Floating Fantasy

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.

Paula Abdul arrives by Big Turkey Spectacular by Jennie-O float © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Geoffrey’s Dazzling Dance Party by Toys“R”Us with Jordin Sparks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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 cast and Muppets of Sesame Street® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Brick-changer by The LEGO® Group carries Fitz and the Tantrums © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Big City Cheer by Spirit of America Productions float carries Miss America 2022 Emma Broyles © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
People of First Light by Macy’s © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Colossal Wave of Wonder by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions carries Sean Paul © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop by Entenmann’s® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Blue’s Clues & You! host Josh Dela Cruz© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Birds of a Feather Stream Together by Peacock® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree (Macy’s Choir) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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).

Dionne Warwick on Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Sean Paul © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Ziggy Marley © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Trombone Shorty © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Jimmy Fallon & The Roots © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gloria, Sasha and Emily Estefan © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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).

University of Missouri Marching Mizzou © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Queer Big Apple Marching Band © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 Clovis North Educational Center (Fresno, CA) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Performance Spotlight

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.

Ballet Hispánico © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Spirit of America Cheer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Big Apple Circus performers © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 700 clowns add to the joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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.

Santa Claus comes to town on his sleigh at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Santa Claus comes to town on his sleigh at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Spectators line the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® route from the start at 79th Street down Central Park West to 34th Street © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The crowd erupts with cheers and delight at the sight of Santa Claus on his sleigh to close out the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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