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Spark the Holiday Season With the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

November 10, 2017 | Events
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2017 Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade Poster

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. This year, the Parade celebrates its 91st anniversary on Thursday, November 23, 2017, and the march of magic will be more dazzling than ever before with the streets coming alive at the sound of "Let's Have a Parade."

More than 3.5 million spectators will gather to watch the 91st edition of the Parade in person and over 50 million viewers nationwide will watch it on TV. The famed spectacle’s line-up will feature 17 giant character balloons; 28 legacy balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 12 marching bands and six performance groups. "Our incredible team has planned a fantastic spectacle featuring an amazing line-up of giant character balloons, floats of fantasy, the nation's best marching bands and performance groups, a dazzling array of musical artists, all coming together to herald the arrival of the one-and-only Santa Claus," said Susan Tercero, group vice-president of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

History of the Macy's 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.

Tin Man Float at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the 1940s

While the Parade has evolved over time, it has always incorporated Macy’s own employee volunteers, talented marching bands and spectacular floats. In 1924, 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 http://social.macys.com/parade/.

The Parade Route

The 91st Anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will begin at 9 a.m. ET at 77th Street and Central Park West. With 2.5 miles of public viewing, the procession will march to Columbus Circle, turn onto Central Park South and proceed down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street. At 34th Street, the Parade will make its final turn west and end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy’s Herald Square.

The Parade Line-Up

This year’s line-up of riveting performers is more amazing than ever. Taking to the streets of New York on board one of Macy's signature floating stages and performing at Herald Square: 98 Degrees, Lauren Alaina, Cam, Sabrina Carpenter, Andra Day & Common, Sara Evans, Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, Flo Rida, Goo Goo Dolls, Kat Graham, Andy Grammer, Angelia Hale, Olivia Holt, Nicky Jam, Wyclef Jean, Bravo's Top Chef stars Padma Lakshmi and tom Colicchio, Dustin Lynch, Miss America 2018 Cara Mund, Leslie Odom Jr. and the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, Bebe Rexha, Smokey Robinson, Jojo Siwa and more.

The Balloons at the Parade

As always, some of the world's most beloved characters in the form of giant helium balloons will take flight at the Parade. This year, four characters will debut: Disney Frozen's Olaf , Illumination presents Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, PAW Patrol® and Jett from Super Wings™. The balloon lineup will also feature the return of Harold the Baseball Player, a legacy Macy's character featured in Twentieth Century Fox's holiday film classic, Miracle on 34th Street. In celebration of the film's 70th anniversary, the Harold heritage balloon has been recreated for this year's Parade, painted in hues of black, white and grey, to look exactly as it did on-screen during a memorable scene in the 1947 film. In addition, the famed spokesduck, The Aflac Duck, will premier as a balloonicle. 

Harold the BAseball Player Balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Returning giant balloon characters include Angry Birds' Red; Charlie Brown; Diary of a Wimpy Kid®; Sinclair's Dino®; The Elf on the Shelf®; Hello Kitty®; Ice Age's Scrat and His Acorn; Pikachu™; Pillsbury Doughboy™; Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger; Ronald McDonald®; SpongeBob SquarePants; and DreamWorks' Trolls.

Pre-Parade Balloon Inflation Event

Balloon Inflation will take place on the day before Thanksgiving. The public is invited to watch the Macy's Giant Balloon Inflation on Wednesday, November 22nd, from 3 pm to 10 pm. Enter the special balloon inflation areas surrounding the Museum of Natural History at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue.

Hello Kitty balloon inflation for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

This Year’s Floats

This year's line-up of floats, both artistic and engineering marvels, sets a riveting stage for entertainment. Five new floats will float down the route this year: Everyone's Favorite Bake Shop by Entenmann's® (Sara Evans), Harvest in the Valley by Green Giant® (Lauren Alaina), Parade Day Mischief by SOUR PATCH KIDS® Candy (Nicky Jam), Shimmer and Shine by Nickelodeon (Jojo Siwa) and Universal Playground by Sprout® (Angelica Hale). A special float by Delta Air Lines will also debut to commemorate the season of togetherness through song, as more than 125 Macy's employees gather to form a cross-generational choir aboard the Macy's Singing Christmas Tree that will sing an original song created for this moment.

The roster of returning floats includes 1-2-3 Sesame Street by Sesame Street by Sesame Street (Leslie Odem Jr. and the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street); The Aloha Spirit by King's Hawaiian (Goo Goo Dolls), Big Apple by NY Daily News (Bebe Rexha); Big City Cheer! by Spirit of America Productions (Miss Maerica 2018 Cara Mund); Building A Better World by Girl Scouts of the USA (Andra Day and Common); The Colonel's Road Trip to NYC by Kentucky Fried Chicken (Dustin Lynch); The Cranberry Cooperative by Ocean Spray®; Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill® (Olivia Holt); Discover Adventure! by Build-a-Bear (Sabrina Carpenter); Frozen Fall Fun by Discover®/NHL (Wyclef Jean, NHL Hockey Hall of Famers Ray Bourque & Bryan Trottier); Fun House by Krazy Glue® (Flo Rida); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown by Hallmark Channel (98 Degrees); It's All Rock & Roll by Gibson Brands (Jimmy Fallon & The Roots); Mount Rushmore's American Pride by South Dakota Department of Tourism (Smokey Robinson); On The Roll Again by Homewood Suites by Hilton® (Andy Grammer); Santa's Sleigh; Snoopy's Doghouse by Peanuts Worldwide; Stirrin' Up Sweet Sensations by Domino® Sugar (Cam); Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Nickolodeon (Kat Graham); and Tom Turkey featuring Bravo's Top Chef (Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio).

Tom Turkey Float at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Marching Bands

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. This year, 12 performance bands will march down the streets of Manhattan, including Colony High School (Palmer, Alaska); Davis High School (Kaysville, Utah); Rosemount High School (Rosemount, MInnesota); West Harrison High School (Gulfport, Mississippi); Rockford High School (Rockford, MIchigan); Ohio University (Athens, Ohio); Nation Ford High School(Fort Mill, South Carolina): Trumbull High School (Trumbull, Connecticut); Prairie View A&M University (Prairie View, Texas); The United States Air Force Band and Honor Guard; Macy's Great American Marching Band (United States); and the NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY).

Marching Band at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Performance Groups

The dancers and cheerleaders of Spirit of America Dance Stars and Spirit of America Cheer are returning the Parade line-up this year and together feature more than 1,000 of the nation's best performers, recruited from small towns and big cities. Also participating in the dance-floor revelry: 34th & Phunk, a hip-hop dance group of all ages commissioned and produced by Macy's with organizers from the United States Tournament of Dance, and choreographed by the legendary artist Willdabeast Adams and acclaimed dancer Janelle Ginestra. The performance of the talented kids of Camp Broadway along with dancers and singers from military bases around the country will pay tribute to America. The zany Red Hot Mamas (Post Falls, Idaho) will deliver a humorous take on the holiday season, along with the stars of the Big Apple Circus (New York, NY).

Television Special Event

Millions of families nationwide will watch The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV as it is broadcast nationally on NBC. This year, the TODAY Show’s Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker will host the three-hour broadcast from 9 a.m. – noon (in all time zones). In addition, Telemundo will simulcast the Parade in Spanish and the event will be hosted by stars Carlos Ponce, Jessica Carrillo and Karim Mendiburu. The broadcast will include the world-famous Radio City Rockettes® as well as performances from the casts of Anastasia, Dear Evan Hansen, Once On This Island and SpongeBob SquarePants — The Broadway Musical.

To provide fans with another unique viewing opportunity, Macy's, along with NBCUniversal and Verizon, will offer a 360-degree livestream of the Parade on Verizon's YouTube page.

Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's

This year, the Macy's iconic balloons and Parade artistry will head south for the winter. Starting on Saturday, November 18, 2017 through January 6, 2018, Universal Orlando Resort's Holidays celebration will feature the all-new "Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's"—a fantastic treat for park guests that showcases more than 15 floats, colorful stilt-walkers and characters, and a specially created cast of Macy's balloons you can't see anywhere else.

To learn more about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, see behind-the-scenes previews 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.

Note: All talent, performers, elements and information included are subject to change.

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Meet Keri Hanson

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