Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade
|In 1997, Macy*s
published an official parade site, which disappeared shortly after
Thanksgiving. They now have a site that looks somewhat more permanent, at
||Contacts for the Macy*s Parade Office
||212-494-4495 (the "Parade Hotline")
||Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade Office
151 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
- 11/17/99 -
I found two sites that link to this page. (Thank you!) One is from
Deb Thompson, who
chooses "best sites" in several categories each month for her Monthly
Review -- my Parade Page was the "best seasonal site" for
1998. The other is from an
educators guide (which contains quite a few good parade links).
- 9/3/99 -
I finally bought a scanner last month, so now my personal parade
photos are on the web! (See below.)
- 4/22/98 -
I received a request for a videotape of the 1986 Macy*s Parade.
If anyone has one, or any info on how to find one, please
Parade and Balloon Statistics
- The parade starts at the Museum of
Natural History, on 77th and 81st Sts. at Central Park West. It
heads south alongside Central Park. The balloons are held close to
the ground, to avoid trees and crosswinds as much as possible. At
Columbus Circle (on the southwest corner of Central Park), the
parade turns onto Broadway.
- At this point, the balloons are raised to their full height. The parade
continues southeast, through Times Square, to the Macy*s
building at Herald Square (where Broadway intersects with 34th St.
and the Avenue of the Americas).
- There's a right turn onto 34th St, and another right onto 7th Ave, where
the balloons and floats are taken down and packed up.
- Approximately 2 million spectators line the 2.5 mile parade
route on every Thanksgiving morning. Another 50 million people
watch on TV.
- 1999 was the parade's 73rd year.
- 1993 was the windiest parade on record, but I think there was more
balloon damage in 1995. In both of those years, Sonic the
Hedgehog crashed into a street light just south of Columbus Circle.
- Spider Man is the parade's longest balloon at 78 feet.
- The Pink Panther's inner tube is 40 feet in diameter, and
his tail is 66 feet long.
- Clifford the Big Red Dog is 60 feet long. He is wearing
a 65 foot leash.
- Dexter now holds the title of the biggest balloon by volume --
21,700 cubic feet of helium.
- The Cat in the Hat's bow tie is 16 feet wide, and his hat
is 2 stories high.
Behind the Scenes - a Balloon Handler's Perspective
- The Night Before - Balloon inflation starts on 77th and 81st Sts.,
off Central Park West. It gets REALLY crowded, and the streets are only
open to pedestrians from 6:00pm to 11:00pm. But it's your best chance to
see the balloons up close, unless you're carrying one.
- Midnight - The Lincoln Tunnel closes partially so Macy*s can
transport the floats from the Parade Studio in Hoboken to their starting
positions on Central Park West.
- 3:00am - 6:00am - I haven't seen it myself, but I have heard that
this is the time that die-hard parade fans show up for prime viewing spots
along the parade route.
- 6:00am - 6:30am - Balloon handlers and clowns arrive at Macy*s
Brooklyn and put on their costumes. This is also the time the public
starts showing up to the sidelines in force.
- 7:00am - 8:00am - Buses take balloon handlers and clowns to the
beginning of the parade route.
- 8:30am - 9:30am - Balloon handlers meet their captains and pilots.
(The captains are experienced Macy*s volunteers, and the pilots are
professionals.) Every handler grabs a free line. A crew removes the
sandbags and nets holding the balloons down.
- 9:00am - 10:30am - Balloons slowly enter the parade.
Don't stop at an intersection if at all possible, the crosswinds are
nasty! Columbus Circle is the worst part of the parade, because of all
the open, unshielded space. It only takes about an hour to "march" the
entire route once your balloon starts, but it certainly seems to be much
- 11:00am - 1:00pm - Smile at the cameras when you pass Macy*s!
Turning the last two corners can be tough; a New York City street seems
a lot narrower when you're navigating a huge balloon through it. Balloons
are deflated on 7th Ave. between 34th and 35th Sts. Balloon handlers get
back on the buses (which are now waiting about a block away) and go back
to the Brooklyn store to take off their costumes.
Past Parade Posses
I marched in the parade in 1993 and 1994, each time as a balloon handler. I
brought friends with me each year, and the pictures below show which balloons
we carried. (Click each image for a larger photo. Thanks to the
Paperless Guide to New York (www.ny.com)
for the balloon photos and the background picture of Macy's.)
||Cat in the Hat
Me in the 1994 parade, carrying the Pink Panther.
In the left-most picture I'm standing with Terry.
My sister Allie in the 1994 parade,
carrying Snoopy's banner.
The tickets that got us into the
"good seats" at the 1995 parade.
It was awesome, but marching in it
was much better.
The Parade on the Web
Macy*s now maintains its own Parade Web
Site, which is by far the most comprehensive guide to the parade.
However, it's a very graphics-intensive site, so if you have a slow internet
connection, be very patient.
Mediabridge Infosystems, Inc. has
a comprehensive guide to
holidays in New York City. Buried within it is a ton of parade info
and zillions of photos.