Macy’s heralds 90th Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy’s heralds 90th Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a holiday tradition.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a holiday tradition.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is celebrating a milestone this year.

Thursday will be the 90th time the iconic holiday event takes over the streets of New York City. It’s one of the few traditions millions of Americans share, whether they are bundled up along the parade route or at home in pajamas watching from the sofa. Despite decorations popping up in stores earlier and earlier each year, Macy’s parade is the true signal that the holiday season has arrived. You can’t truly transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas until you see those balloons make their way around the city’s skyscrapers and know that Santa is on his way to Macy’s flagship Manhattan location.

To mark this monumental occasion, Macy’s is bringing back some surprises. Modeled after the original design, Felix the cat, the silent era animated feline who was the first helium character to be carried along the route, makes his return. Felix will be carried on poles just like the first parade balloons in the 1920s. Other classic balloons winding down the West Side include the Pillsbury Doughboy, Paddington Bear and Charlie Brown.

There will also be 26 floats, including four new ones by King’s Hawaiian and Girl Scouts of the USA. Santa’s sleigh is the largest, naturally, measuring more than 60 feet long and 3.5 stories tall. Putting on an event of this magnitude requires numerous volunteers and more than 8,000 participants including 1,100 cheerleaders, dancers, 1,000 clowns, 16 marching bands and performance groups.

Santa's arrival in the Macy's Parade ushers in the holiday season.

Santa’s arrival in the Macy’s Parade ushers in the holiday season.

The nearly 2-mile procession begins at 77th St. and ends in front of Macy’s Herald Square, much shorter than the original 5.5-mile route. The parade hasn’t been held for 90 consecutive years, however, since it was halted during World War II, from 1942-44. Because of helium and rubber shortages, Macy’s deflated its oversize balloons and donated the rubber to the government.

Also this year, Verizon will livestream the parade in 360 degrees on YouTube allowing mobile users to view the festivities from various perspectives. NBC has exclusive broadcast rights on cable TV. The parade kicks off at 9 a.m.  Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker will anchor this year’s broadcast.

Willard Scott shows off his Paul Revere hat during a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Willard Scott shows off his Paul Revere hat during a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I have many fond memories watching Willard Scott introduce us to the goings-on of the three-hour holiday kick-off. Our Thanksgiving Day tradition for years has been watching Macy’s parades from the 1980s, including the 1987 parade, which we own on DVD. It includes this gem from Starlight Express. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!