Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade


Photo courtesy of Sue Moller

The holidays are a time filled with countless traditions and memories. One tradition that takes place in New York and is viewed throughout the nation is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This Thanksgiving staple began in 1924 and has now become an important aspect of the holiday for many. Many take part in this tradition, whether it be watching the parade on TV, venturing into the city to watch the parade from the streets, or marching/performing in the parade. “It is the best tradition that New York has,” expressed junior Amelia Doyle.

An estimated three million people line the parade route to watch in-person, and about 22 million viewers tune in at home, according to CNN ( Doyle is one of these 22 million viewers: “I watch [the parade] on the couch under a cozy blanket each Thanksgiving. My favorite part is the Smokey the Bear float.” The balloons, floats, and marching bands begin in the Upper West Side and make their way to Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square. The parade this year featured 16 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 12 marching bands, 700 clowns, and Santa Claus in addition to Broadway performers, musicians, and TV hosts.

Guidance counselor Sue Moller had the “absolutely magical” opportunity to be in the parade this year as a balloon handler. Moller shared that she got this opportunity through a friend who is a “balloon handler captain.” At 5:45 AM, she had to arrive in the city to get her “costume” and take the bus uptown to where the parade began. “Once we got there, we got to walk next to where the balloons were blown up and got to see everyone else getting into their starting line positions,” Moller said. Moller was a handler for the new “Bluey” float, which spectators were especially excited to see: “We had so much excitement surrounding the debut of this float, which also made it extra-special.” 

Broadway kicked off the parade with a performance from Lea Michele and the cast of Funny Girl. Numerous other Broadway performances were scattered through the parade, including The Lion King, Some Like It Hot, A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical, Six, and Moulin Rouge! The Radio City Rockettes were also featured in the parade with their routine from the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Junior Elena McDonald shared, “My favorite part of the parade was seeing the Rockettes perform because I’m so amazed by them and how they perform so well.”

The parade continued with an array of floats and balloons, featuring six new floats and five new inflatables that made their debut. These new floats included the following: “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong and Nickelodeon; “Geoffrey’s Dazzling Dance Party” by Toys ‘R Us; “People of First Light” by Macy’s; “Supersized Slumber” by Netflix; “Winter Dragon” by Macy’s; and “The Wondership” by Wonder. 

Five new inflatables were also unveiled at the parade: “Bluey” by BBC, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Abrams Books, “DINO and Baby DINO” by Sinclair Oil, “Strike, the U.S. Soccer Star” by Fox Sports, and “Stuart the Minion” from Illumination. Many other returning balloons joined, flying high in the sky, including Astronaut Snoopy, Funko Pop Baby Yoda, and the Pillsbury Doughboy. The day before the parade, spectators in New York City were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the inflation of the balloons as they were carefully unrolled and filled with helium.

The parade also included performers from near and far. The entertainment and dance groups included Ballet Hispánico, Big Apple Circus, Boss Kids, Fusion WinterGuard, Kilgore College Rangerettes, Phantom Limb Company, Spirit of American Dance Stars, Spirit of American Cheer, St. John’s Dance Group, and The Sigma Gamma Rho Centennial Steppers. The parade also put an assortment of bands on display. These bands came from cities across the country from Fresno, California, to Columbia, South Carolina, with one band coming all the way from Xalapa, Mexico. 

The parade also featured dozens of stars, including singer/songwriter Jordin Sparks, soul singer Joss Stone, jazz artist Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, reggae artist Ziggy Marley, and more. The parade closed with Mariah Carey’s performance of “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” preceding the arrival of Santa and his elves.