The 2018 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade featured monumental entertainment, giant balloons and extraordinary talent that took the audience's breath away.
Nothing marks the start of the holiday season in the U.S. with greater fanfare and delight than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which takes place annually on Thanksgiving Day in Manhattan, New York. IN 2018, the Parade celebrated its 92nd year and the march of magic was more dazzling than ever before. Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade perhaps said it best in a statement she issued before the event took place: "This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will redefine spectacle with a jaw dropping mix of must-see entertainment for millions of spectators. Featuring an amazing line-up of high flying balloons, dazzling animated floats, world-class marching bands and performance groups, the nation’s top music artists and of course, the one-and-only Santa Claus, the Macy’s Parade will once again herald the arrival of the holiday season."
Millions of fans gathered to watch the 92nd edition of the Parade, both in person and on TV on NBC. The lineup featured 16 giant character balloons; 43 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats and specialty units; 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 12 marching bands.
Over 8,000 people, including Macy’s colleagues, their friends and families, celebrities, performers and others participated in the Parade.
The Macy’s Parade Studio: How the Parade Came Alive
The Macy’s Parade Studio is where all the magic comes together each year. The Studio is the headquarters for all the painters, carpenters, animators and many other experts who build the show’s larger-than-life elements. The team put in over 50,000 hours of labor to ensure that every detail of the 2018 Parade was perfect—down to the 300 pounds of glitter sprinkled on costumes, floats and more and the 4,200 costumes created for the Parade participants.
History of the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade
Originally known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade, the Parade tradition was started in 1924 by Macy’s employees who wanted to celebrate the holiday season with a grand pageant comparable to grand European carnivals and festivals. The first Parade featured fanciful floats, employee marching bands, clown groups and live animals from the Central Park Zoo. The event was such a resounding success that it became an annual event from that point forward.
While the Parade has evolved over time, it has always incorporated Macy’s own employee volunteers, talented marching bands and dazzling floats. In 1927, the Parade debuted four giant balloons filled with air and carried on sticks, including the first-ever, character-based balloon featuring the likeness of animated film star, Felix the Cat. The following year, helium was added to the inflatables and ever since, high-flying artworks that showcase the world’s most beloved characters have served as a central component of the Parade spectacle. As the Parade continued to grow and expand, it became a fixture of the holiday season known for bringing families together in joyful celebration. For more on the fascinating history of the parade, check out www.macys.com/parade.
The 2018 Parade Route
The 92nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began at 9 a.m. at 77th Street and Central Park West. The procession marched to Columbus Circle, turned onto Central Park South and proceeded down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street. At 34th Street, the Parade made its final turn west and ended at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.
The 2018 Parade Lineup
The star power along the Parade route and in homes across the country featured some of the nation’s most exciting performers. Appearing on board one of Macy’s signature floating stages were Bad Bunny, Barenaked Ladies, Bazzi, Ally Brooke, Kane Brown, Brynn Cartelli, Jack & Jack, John Legend, Leona Lewis, Ella Mai, Tegan Marie, Martina McBride, Rita Ora, Carly Pearce, Pentatonix, Anika Noni Rose and the cast & Muppets of Sesame Street, Diana Ross with her children and extended family (including Rhonda Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross, Chudney Ross, Ross Naess and Evan Ross with wife Ashlee Simpson-Ross), Sugarland, Ashley Tisdale, Mackenzie Ziegler and Johnny Orlando; with a special appearance by the one-and-only Santa Claus.
The Balloons at the 92nd Thanksgiving Day Parade
This year, the balloons were more spectacular than ever! The Parade’s novelty and giant balloons included the famed Saiyan warrior Goku from “Dragon Ball Super: Broly;” the elf stars of “The Christmas Chronicles” on Netflix – Fleck, Bjorn, Jojo and Hugg; Sunny the Snowpal; colorful Americana spheres; Peanuts’ loveable blockhead Charlie Brown, who is as high as a 4-story building; DINO, the famed Apatosaurus who first debuted in 1963’s Macy’s Parade and is as long as 12 bicycles; the Flying Fish, which appeared in the 2013 Parade and came back; Greg Heffley from the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book series by Jeff Kinney, celebrating the 13th book in the series titled "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown;" Illumination Presents Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch and his loyal dog Max (both characters appear in a new cinematic version of Dr. Seuss’ classic tale "The Grinch,"); Jett by Superwings; the Nutcracker; Olaf, the snowman from Disney’s Frozen; PAW Patrol; Pikachu, Pokémon’s brightest ambassador; Pillsbury Doughboy; Red “Believe” Stars as well as other stars in Blue & White and Yellow; Red & Gold Macy’s Snowflakes; Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger; Ronald McDonald; SpongeBob SquarePants; The Elf on the Shelf; Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World; and Trolls.
Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery series returned to the sky this year for the seventh edition with Little Cloud, the iconic creation of art collaborative FriendsWithYou™. Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery series invited contemporary artists to recreate their work as Parade balloons. Artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III joined Little Cloud with a stunning rainbow inflatable and two raindrops in the 2018 Parade, creating an artistic expression of joy and whimsy.
The Parade also included Balloonicles, which are self-powered balloon vehicles. New this year were: Go Bowling (gobowling.com) and Three Baby Dinos. Bulldog (Macy’s); Mouse King; Nutcracker; The Aflac Duck; and Tough Guy were the returning balloonicles.
Pre-Parade Balloon Inflation Event
Balloon Inflation took place on the day before Thanksgiving. The public was invited to watch the Macy's Giant Balloon Inflation on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day, from 1 pm to 8 pm.
Floats and Specialty Units
Four new floats debuted in 2018 and many that appeared in past Parades returned. The new floats were: Santa’s Saint Bernards Save Christmas based on a new animated holiday special, Elf Pets: Santa’s Saint Bernards Save Christmas; Splashing Safari Adventure from Kalahari Resorts and Conventions showcasing a thrilling safari through the savannah and down a shimmering river with exotic animals; Fantasy Chocolate Factory by Kinder® and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Nickelodeon.
The returning floats were: 1-2-3 Sesame Street® (Sesame Workshop™); The Aloha Spirit (King’s Hawaiian®); Big City Cheer! (Spirit of America Productions); Building a Better World (Girl Scouts of the USA); The Cranberry Cooperative (Ocean Spray®); Deck the Halls (Balsam Hill®); Discover Adventure! (Build-A-Bear®); Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop (Entenmann’s®); Frozen Fall Fun (Discover®/NHL); Fun House (Krazy Glue); Harvest in the Valley (Green Giant®); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown (Hallmark Channel); Mount Rushmore’s American Pride (South Dakota Department of Tourism); On the Roll Again (Homewood Suites by Hilton®); Parade Day Mischief (Sour Patch Kids® Candy); Santa’s Sleigh; Shimmer and Shine (Nickelodeon); Snoopy’s Doghouse (Peanuts Worldwide); Tom Turkey; and Universal Playground (Universal Kids).
Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree (Delta Air Lines) returned for the second year in a row. The massive tree on this float was ‘decorated” with a choir of more than 100 Macy’s colleagues and friends from Delta Air Lines hailing from across the nation and the world. The special float commemorated the season through an original holiday song celebrating togetherness and the magic of believing.
Said Wesley Whatley, VP Creative Director, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: "This float is an opportunity for us as colleagues to give thanks for this holiday, this company, this country and the power of music."
The Marching Bands and Performance Groups
Marching bands are a central piece of the Parade and deliver a hefty dose of hometown pride as well as a holiday beat to the Big Apple’s streets. Twelve performance ensembles marched this year. They included: CNS H.S. Northstars March Band (Cicero, NY); Grants Pass H.S. Marching Band & Color Guard (Grants Pass, OR); Homewood Patriot Band (Homewood, AL); JMU Marching Royal Dukes (Harrisonburg, VA); Keller High School Marching Band (Keller, TX); Lafayette H.S. Mighty Lion Marching Band (Lafayette, LA); Macy’s Great American Marching Band; NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY); Park Vista High School Marching Band Performers (Lake Worth, FL); Riverside City College Marching Tigers (Riverside, CA); The Ohio State U. Marching Band (Columbus, OH); and Woodland High School Wildcat Marching Band (Cartersville, GA).
Performance groups comprising hundreds of spirited talents from all over the country joined these bands to entertain the Parade audience with dances, stunts and high-flying routines.
Television Special Event
Millions of families nationwide watched The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV as it broadcasted nationally on NBC. This year, Savannah Guthrie, Hota Kotb and Al Roker hosted the three-hour broadcast from 9 a.m.–noon (in all time zones). The broadcast included the world-famous Radio City Rockettes® as well as a variety of Broadway performers.
For the third year, Macy’s along with NBCUniversal and Verizon gave viewers an up close and personal second screen experience of the Parade with a 360-degree livestream on Verizon's YouTube page.
To learn more about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the amazing ways in which the Parade has evolved from the 1920s through the 2000s, check out the dedicated interactive parade website. You can also call the Parade hotline at 212-494-4495 for more information.