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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade facts

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014 will be November 27, 2014 (that’s Thanksgiving, in case you were too dazzled by the helium-filled characters to remember to defrost the turkey!). As always, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will march right through the heart of New York City!

Who can participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Since the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 27, 1924, participants in the parade have always been Macy’s employees, their families and friends, or others who have a relationship with the Parade’s elements and partners. The exception to this parade participation policy is invited performing talent like marching bands, celebrities and singers. Think you’d like to participate? You’ll have to be approved by the Macy’s Parade Office.

Marching band schedule for Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Band Lineup

  • American Fork High School Marching Band, Utah
  • Bahamas All Stars Marching Band, Nassau, Bahamas
  • Baldwinsville High School Marching Band, Baldwinsville, New York
  • Center Grove High School, Greenwood, Indiana
  • Winston Churchill High School Marching Band, San Antonio, Texas
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar High School Marching Band, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Foothill High School Marching Band, Henderson, Nevada
  • Georgia State University Marching Band, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Macy’s Great American Marching Band, USA
  • Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps Anniversary Corps, Madison, Wisconsin
  • NYPD Marching Band, New York
  • Western Carolina University Marching Band, Cullowhee, North Carolina

Spiderman balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2013 - by gigi_nyc

How to watch the parade

Tickets for the grandstand seating at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade aren’t available to the general public. A small amount of seats are provided to Macy’s employees, friends and family. Seats here are also donated to charitable organizations for auctions.

You could try to score a spot along the parade route. Camp out along the west side of the street on Central Park West from 59th to 75th Streets if you’re an early riser, or arrive a bit later and snag a spot along the route on 6th Avenue. It’s not advised to watch the parade near Columbus Circle because the balloons often race through this area due to increased winds.

Our advice? Sit back and enjoy the parade as it’s broadcast on NBC for the 52nd year! Besides, last year’s forecasted parade high temperature was 33 degrees. That’s a single degree above freezing and sure, if you can score a ticket you’ll be packed in tighter than Santa in his whitie-tighties so you’ll probably stay warm … but we recommend sitting back, sneaking bits of turkey and enjoying the parade on TV along with 50 million or so other spectators!

And if you’ve got a standing date with a Turkey Bowl Tournament, you better set your DVR – no reproductions or copies of the parade are distributed, EVER.

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Sneak peek at the balloons!

You can get a first look at the big day balloons by attending the Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation from 3pm to 10pm the day before Thanksgiving. Enter the special balloon inflation areas surrounding the Museum of Natural History beginning at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue.

Map out the parade route

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has always been in Manhattan but the route has changed over the years. Originally, the six-mile route started at 145th Street in Harlem and ended at Herald Square. Beginning in the 1930s, inflation of the balloons occurred in the area of 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, near St. John the Divine Cathedral. The parade then proceeded south on Amsterdam to 106th Street and turned east; at Columbus Avenue the balloons had to be lowered to go under the 9th Avenue Elevated Subway tracks. Beyond the tracks, the route continued through 106th Street to Central Park West and turned south to finally end at Macy’s.

In 2009, a new route eliminated Broadway completely. It began at 77th Street and Central Park West, then proceeded south along Central Park to Columbus Circle, then east along Central Park South. At 7th Avenue, the parade would make a right turn and continue south to Times Square. At 42nd Street, the parade turned east, turning right at 6th Avenue and Bryant Park. After heading south on 6th Avenue, the parade then turned right on 34th Street and continued west to 7th Avenue where the floats were taken down.

In 2012, another new route was introduced, eliminating Times Square and rerouting the parade down Sixth Avenue. This shift was met with protest by the Times Square BID and Broadway Theatre owners.

Take a look at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in numbers

2nd Macy’s is the second largest consumer of helium, behind the U.S. government

2.5 Mile parade route

3 Hour running time with commercials

6 Versions of Snoopy balloons have appeared, including Aviator Snoopy, Astronaut Snoopy, Skating Snoopy, Millenium Snoopy & Flying Ace Snoopy

9th Avenue Elevated Subway Tracks cause the balloons to be lowered during the 1930s parade route

10 Hours to blow up all the balloons before the parade

12 Parade broadcasts have earned an Emmy for outstanding achievement

12 Bands scheduled for 2014

17 Gallons of paint to cover the Kung Fu Panda balloon

18 Months to plan each parade

34MPH The wind speed at which all balloons must be removed from the parade

36 Appearances by Snoopy in the parade – the most by any character

50° predicted high temperature in NYC in November

52 Years on NBC

80 Foot high balloon – Superman – is the tallest ever

88th anniversary of the parade in 2014

$100 Prize given to the person who retrieved a balloon after it was released and allowed to float over the city for days

120 Foot long balloon – Nantucket Sea Monster – is the longest ever but the balloon was destroyed and the rubber recycled for use during WWII

600 Internal tie-lines to make SpongeBob SquarePants square

650 Pounds of scrap rubber donated to WWII from the parade’s balloons during the parade’s suspension

800 Clowns were in the 2011 parade

1924 First Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

1927 Giant helium balloons replace animals, led by Felix the Cat

1928 The balloons are released into the sky where they unexpectedly burst

1933 A pilot dies attempting to capture a released balloon after the parade

1946 The parade starting line is moved to 77th and Central Park West

1947 First nationally televised parade

1958 Due to a helium shortage, the balloons are carried by large construction cranes

1963 The parade is nearly cancelled due to JFK’s assassination one week earlier

2009 The parade route changes and eliminates Broadway completely

8,000+ Participants in the parade

13,200 Marchers, floats and balloons were in the 2009 parade

18,000+ Cubic feet of helium to fill Shamu – the largest balloon ever

250,000+ People attend the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

300,000 Cubic feet of helium to blow up 15 large balloons

2.6 Million gallon jugs of milk-worth of helium to fill the balloons each year

Over 3.5 million spectators watch the annual parade in person

Over 50 million watch the parade from home

212-494-4495 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade helpline

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Through the Years

1924 First Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

1927 Giant helium balloons replace animals, led by Felix the Cat who actually caught fire on some telephone wires

1928 The balloons are released into the sky where they unexpectedly burst

1929 Return address labels are added to the balloons, along with a safety valve, so they deflate slowly after being released

1932-1941 The parade is broadcast on local New York radio

1933 Over 1 million spectators line the parade route

1934 Mickey Mouse balloon premieres

1933 A pilot dies attempting to capture a released balloon after the parade

1935 The Marx Brothers and Donald Duck premiere in the parade

1938 Uncle Sam balloon joins the parade

1940 The Tin Man, Pinocchio and Happy Hippo debut in the parade

1942-1944 The parade is suspended due to WWII and rubber and helium shortages

1945 The parade resumes

1946 The parade starting line is moved to 77th and Central Park West

1947 The Miracle on 34th Street prominently features the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

1948 First nationally televised parade premieres on ABC

1950 Freida the Dachshund joins the parade

1951 Mighty Mouse is featured in the parade

1952 NBC becomes the official broadcaster of the parade

1957 Popeye stars in the parade but his hat fills with water during a heavy rain, causing him to veer off course and pour water on spectators

1958 Due to a helium shortage, the balloons are carried by large construction cranes

1960 The parade appears in a color broadcast for the first time

1961 Bullwinkle the Moose first appears in the parade

1961 The televised parade moves from one-hour to two

1962 Donald Duck reappears in the parade in a new version

1963 Sinclair Oil Dinosaur and Elsie the Cow float by in the parade

1963 The parade is nearly cancelled due to JFK’s assassination one week earlier

1965 Underdog soars by in the parade

1966 The second version of Superman and first version of Smokey Bear appear

1968 Aviator Snoopy stops by

1969 The first time that all 3 hours of the parade are broadcast

1972 A tribute to Apollo 11 is included in the parade

1974 The Sesame Street float debuts

1975 A Weeble balloon debuts (and it doesn’t fall over!)

1976 Say “hello!” to the Hello Kitty balloon

1977 Kermit the Frog soars above the parade route

1980s The parade begins adding characters from contemporary cartoons

1980 The third version of a Superman balloon appears and is the tallest balloon to date

1982 Olive Oyl with Swee’Pea is the first female character in parade history!

1982-1987 Bryant Gumbel hosts the parade

1983 Hold on to your picnic baskets! Yogi Bear joins the parade.

1984 Garfield and Raggedy Ann join the parade

1985 The Kermit balloon tears at the stomach but thankfully no one is injured

1986 Baby Shamu (the largest balloon in history!) floats through the parade and Raggedy Ann crashes into a lamppost

1987 Spider-Man, Ronald McDonald, Snuggle Bear and Skating Snoopy all appear

1988 Big Bird joins Pink Panther and the fourth version of Snoopy featuring Woodstock

1989 What’s up, Doc? Bugs Bunny joins the parade

1990 Clifford the Big Red Dog and Bart Simpson cruise through the parade route

1991 Babar the Elephant joins parade history

1992 Santa Goofy debuts

1993 Sonic the Hedgehog is the first video game character in history to join the parade but crashes into a lamppost and injures an off-duty police officer

1994 Barney tears his side on a lamppost

1995 Dudley the Dragon leads the parade before being speared and deflated by lamppost that showers glass on the crowd below

1996 Peter Rabbit hops down the parade path

1996 Macy’s begins publicly inflating the balloons

1997 Pink Panther hits a lamppost while being inflated

1997 High winds push Cat in the Hat into a lamppost, injuring a spectator with falling debris and leaving her in a coma for a month

1997 MTV co-hosts Beavis and Butthead and Kurt Loder join the ranks

1998 Babe the Pig and Dexter cruise the route

1999 Millenium Snoopy is the 5th version of Snoopy in the parade

2000 Ronald McDonald reappears in the parade and Rocky deflates before he can join Bullwinkle

2001 Curious George, Big Bird, Jimmy Neutron and Pikachu show up

2002 Kermit the Frog comes back and joins Little Bill and Charlie Brown

2003 Super Grover and Garfield’s second version join the parade

2004 SpongeBob SquarePants, M&Ms and Chicken Little are featured

2005 The M&Ms chocolate candies get caught on a streetlight and new safety rules are introduced

2006 The Energizer Bunny keeps going, and going, and going

2006 New safety measures are incorporated including the installation of wind measurement devices

2007 Shrek makes his debut

2008 To infinity and beyond! Buzz Lightyear joins the parade. A Keith Haring-inspired balloon hits the NBC Broadcast Booth.

2009 Sailor Mickey is the 4th version of the iconic mouse in the parade

2009 The parade route changes and eliminates Broadway completely

2010 Po from Kung Fu Panda takes center stage while SpongeBob veers into a lamppost

2011 The Kool Aid Man tips over after becoming deflated

2011 On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the parade invites family members from Tuesday’s Children to cut the ribbon

2012 The Elf on the Shelf watches from high above the parade route while Buzz Lightyear tears a massive hole in his helmet and ends up in a river

2013 Snoopy with Woodstock is the 7th version of the beloved pup to join the parade. Meanwhile, Spider-Man’s left arm partially deflates after hitting a tree

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What happens when a balloon hits a lamppost?

Find out in the balloon mishaps infographic!

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