November is officially underway, and with Halloween behind us, it’s time to look forward to the upcoming holiday season. There’s no event in the United States more synonymous with the start of the holiday season than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In its 87th year, the parade returns to Manhattan’s Upper West Side on November 28th (Thanksgiving Day, of course) for a celebratory seasonal kick-off featuring giant balloon characters, elaborate floats, talented marching bands, celebrity appearances, and festive performances.
If you have the chance to join the three million spectators that turn out for the parade each year, don’t miss the opportunity for this one-of-a-kind experience. After all, it’s one of the most iconic New York attractions you’ll ever witness! If a trip to NYC isn’t in your holiday plans, make sure to tune into the parade coverage on NBC with nearly 50 million other Americans before sitting down to a Thanksgiving Day feast.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or “Macy’s Day Parade,” as it’s often shortened to, began in 1924 as the Macy’s Christmas Parade. The original parade was started by Macy’s employees and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. Three years later, in 1927, came the debut of the giant inflatable balloon characters for which the parade is so well known. Felix the Cat was the first ever balloon character to take to the sky above the streets of Manhattan. The parade has grown immensely since its younger years, and it now features nearly 10,000 participants and over 20 helium balloon characters. While the zoo animals have been retired, the parade always has something new to showcase! Check out highlights from this year’s line-up below.
Snoopy will be back this year to secure his title for most appearances in the parade, a whopping total of 32. This year’s new snoopy balloon is the seventh version to enter the parade. Exciting “newbies” this year include the Finn and Jake balloon, Toothless from DreamWorks’How to Train Your Dragon and an all-new holiday version of SpongeBob Squarepants, who has made his way up from his pineapple under the sea just for the occasion.
This year’s prime floats include a cupcake parlor Despicable Me 2 float complete with mischievous Minions and supervillain turned loving father Gru, the Enchanting World of Lindt Chocolate orchestrated by a giant chocolatier puppet, the Smurfs with their mushroom house, the brand new Viking Confetti-pult, the Voyage of Wonder by Cirque de Soleil, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Of course, Tom Turkey will lead the parade and Santa’s Sleigh, featuring the jolly man himself, will bring up the rear.
Guests and Performances
While it’s a given that the parade will include an abundance of celebrities and special guest performers, these usually remain a surprise until the last minute. However, some very talented performance groups have been confirmed, including Spirit of America Dance, the South Shore Drill Team, and All That! Clogging Group, first made famous by America’s Got Talent.
What would a parade be without the marchers? Luckily, you won’t have to find out. This year’s Macy’s Day Parade boasts several of America’s best marching bands, including the crowd-pleasing NYPD Marching Band, the Macy’s Great American Marching Band composed of the top musicians from all 50 states, and the Ooltewah High School Band, who will perform a special Wizard of Oz performance in honor of the 75th anniversary of the classic film.
The parade begins at 9 AM at 77th Street and Central Park West; however this year’s route is slightly different than past years. The parade will continue down to Columbus Circle, turn onto Central Park South and proceed down a new path via 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) to 34th Street. At 34th Street, the marchers will turn west and end in front of Macy’s Herald Square on 7th Avenue at noon.
To get a good spot at the parade, make sure to wake up bright and early. Dress in warm layers and park yourself along Central Park West (for the really early risers) or on 6th Avenue. Just don’t get stuck between 34th and 38th streets or in front of Macy’s Herald Square as much of the live broadcasting takes place in these sectors and public viewing areas limited.
New York Attractions
Don’t leave the Big Apple without seeing the many other beloved New York attractions the city boasts. With a New York attractions pass by Smart Destinations, you can take advantage of discounted admission to the top attractions using just one NY pass, which you can print at home immediately! The 50+ attractions offered on a New York attraction pass include the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an NBC Studio Tour, the American Museum of Natural History, and a Manhattan Hop-On Hop-Off tour for flexible sightseeing. Also think about the Go Select New York Holiday Attractions package if you are going to be in town during this holiday season! Also check out Smart Destinations’ NYC Thanksgiving Day Parade Pass for 27% off admission to CitySights Hop-On/Off tour, Top of the Rock and an NBC Studios Tour!