The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a holiday tradition beyond New York City


As the turkey goes in the oven, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins its march down 77th Street. But this annual spectacle is more than just a New York City tradition.

For 93 years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a holiday tradition. As attendees line the streets of New York City to witness the balloons, floats, bands, performers, and celebrities march across the city, even more people tune in as part of their holiday tradition. In a way, one city’s holiday celebration has become a collective cultural experience.

Many people visit New York City during the holiday season. From the famous store window decorations to the towering Christmas tree in Rockerfeller Center, the twinkling lights of the city that never sleeps entices people with its holiday wonder. The kick-off to that holiday season is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

While some locals may prefer to avoid the crowds lining the streets, others travel to New York City just to be part of the annual parade event. As the balloons soar next to those gigantic skyscrapers, the parade offers a little bit of childlike whimsy that makes the holiday season just a little brighter.

Over the years, the parade has grown. According to Macy’s, this year’s event will feature “16 giant character balloons; 40 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 11 marching bands.” Given the enormity of the event, it makes sense that the television portion is three hours long.

While those numbers are staggering, the excitement of seeing favorite and iconic characters in balloon form just makes people smile. Although the idea of people carrying gigantic balloons down the street seems unlikely, everyone cannot help but smile when Snoppy comes marching down the avenue.

One of the reasons why this parade continues to be connected to the pop culture collective is because it grows with people. For example, Snoppy has often been a part of the annual holiday tradition. This year’s balloon celebrates the Apollo 11 anniversary. Again, it is a combination of past, present, and, in some ways, future.

Part of the future is the evolution of the balloons. While the characters are the most recognizable, Macy’s celebrates contemporary artists through the Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery. Over the years, these balloons have celebrated particular contemporary artists, including Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, and Tim Burton.

This year’s featured artist is Yayoi Kusama. Her piece is titled “Love Flies Up to the Sky.” This vibrant design will hopefully inspire explore the beauty through her abstract interpretation.

Although other floats and performances are important parts of the holiday parade, the balloons are probably the most recognizable aspect. Going back to 1927, the balloons have been a feature. While the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade features these gigantic balloons, it isn’t the only place to see those holiday sights.

Macy’s brings some of its balloon magic to Universal Orlando Resort during the holiday season. During the nightly Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, those character balloons travel in front of some of Universal’s favorite attractions.

From the beloved Minions to a Shrek characters, these balloons are similar to the ones that march down the streets of New York City. The best part is that these balloons come out to delight guests more than just one day a year. The holiday parade happens every night at the Orlando theme park.

If you are wondering, there is one character that is the same at both the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the nightly Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. The Nutcracker is featured in both parades.

Expanding the Macy’s balloons beyond the Thanksgiving Day celebration shows how much this holiday tradition resonates with people. What might have started as a New York City celebration has become a worldwide tradition. In a way, those sights and sounds unite people and bring a little more holiday cheer.

While some people look to strip away the traditional, there is something pure and joyful from watching the simple things in life. Even as Santa ends the parade, it is a reminder that spreading a little holiday merriment can make the world a little better. Doesn’t everyone deserve a little more happy right now?

The 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be held on Thursday, November 28 at 9 a.m. The event will be broadcast on NBC and will be streamed on YouTube.

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s runs now through January 5 at Universal Orlando Resort. Times vary depending on the day.

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Isn’t it time to embrace more holiday traditions? Is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade part of your holiday season?