Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Macy’s 97th Thanksgiving Day Parade offers a fresh flare to its classic roots

The parade was referred to as Macy’s Christmas Parade at its original inauguration on Nov. 27, 1924, meant to attract the public to Macy’s fresh location on 34th Street.
A+view+of+the+iconic+Tom+the+Turkey+statue+and+the+Empire+State+Building.+
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A view of the iconic “Tom the Turkey” statue and the Empire State Building.

On Nov. 23, the 97th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade premiered live from New York City at 8:30 a.m. ET on ABC beginning on Manhattan’s Upper West Side before concluding at Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street. This year, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker from NBC’s “Today” reprised their host roles. 

Although a front-row seat at the celebration’s New York City streets is sure to directly reflect the quintessential “American Dream” by initiating multi-generational nostalgia, the annual tradition is also available for streaming on NBC, CBS, and additional streaming services such as Peacock and CBS All Access. 

The parade was referred to as Macy’s Christmas Parade at its original inauguration on Nov. 27, 1924, meant to attract the public to Macy’s fresh location on 34th Street. Employees kickstarted the Thanksgiving tradition by coordinating the first parade to increase profits during the company’s holiday season. Float displays with Central Park Zoo animals attained high viewership and public involvement, among other unique elements. However, it remained unbeknownst to the employees that this arrangement would spark the beginning of an unprecedented Thanksgiving tradition. 

This 1924 version of the parade ended with the nostalgic Santa Claus before unveiling the store’s Christmas windows to the general public. In 1927, the Christmas Parade had evolved into the beloved Thanksgiving Day Parade now celebrated by all of America annually. 

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has changed drastically since its first radio installments in 1932 to its 1946 television appearance streamed from New York City. NBC subsequently picked up the ceremony the following year, displaying the parade to nationwide audiences. 

Among discussion for greatest concern in the parade’s vast history, original methods for balloon disposal had directly caused repercussions that led to their elimination altogether, prompting for discussion to increase effectivity and reliability. 

Originally, upon the balloons’ release into the air, the finders would receive a Macy’s gift certificate. The release of balloons into the air resulted in them popping when their altitude reached a certain threshold. The additions of valves later followed, which allowed the incremental release of helium from the balloons. 

To reobtain all of the released balloons, Macy’s distributed a return address and a reward to citizens who discovered and returned the balloons from their location. 

However, officials discontinued this problematic method of releasing the deflated balloons to the public when it began to threaten lives; for example, in 1932, an adrift balloon increased an airplane’s vulnerability by wrapping around its wing, which later culminated into a tailspin. 

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A Mickey Mouse balloon from the 1934 Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This event and many other unfortunate circumstances persuaded officials to deflate the balloons upon the parade’s conclusion. 

On a brighter note, parade-goers from all over the nation travel miles to attend the celebration, hoping to view some of their favorite television characters in balloon form. Felix the Cat began the long-lasting tradition of parade balloons in 1927, with iconic characters such as Mickey Mouse and Snoopy added in 1934 and 1968, respectively.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would not have been like today without President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to change Thanksgiving from the last Thursday of November to the fourth one in an effort to boost Holiday shopping sales that could contribute to reviving the economy in response to the Great Depression. This law was officially executed through the 1941 Act of Congress, greatly influencing the day the parade would occur. 

However, during the parade’s course, the enjoyment was interrupted when a group of protesters were arrested after displaying a banner that said “Free Palestine” and “Genocide Then. Genocide Now.” The protesters were discovered by the balloon consisting of McDonald’s characters. 

Some artists who performed at the celebration included Bell Biv Devoe, Brandy, Cher, Jessie James Decker, Jon Batiste, Pentatonix, and many other celebrities and Broadway performers. Grace Stanke, Miss America 2023, also appeared at the event. 

This year featured new balloons like Netflix’s Leo the Lizard and returning balloons like SpongeBob. Although the iconic Snoopy once again reprised his role as a parade balloon this year, audience members were pleasantly surprised with his revamp as a Beagle Scout, commemorating his greater than 50-year legacy to the Peanuts comics. 

There were also floats to impress the kids in the celebration, specifically Bluey and Big Bird, that were brought to life on TV screens, catching the eyes of many entertained young children.

The parade was also accompanied by marching bands from around different regions of the nation and various clown crews to couple it off. Rutgers freshman Sabrina Moe, Hills alumna and former Editor for the In-Depth and College Corner sections of the Trailblazer, performed at this year’s parade after the Rutgers Marching Band was selected to attend. 

As this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade comes to an end, the general public can look forward to future celebrations and new additions that keep the spirit of the iconic event alive. 

Sources:

https://www.today.com/popculture/blog/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-2023-live-updates-rcna126389 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/live-blog/macys-parade-thanksgiving-day-live-updates-rcna126392 

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-feat/index.html 

https://bleedingcool.com/tv/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-2023-balloons-one-piece-grogu-more/ 

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/holidays/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-what-to-know-if-youre-going-to-watch-in-person/4879261/ 

https://playbill.com/article/the-playbill-guide-to-the-2023-macys-thanksgiving-day-parade 

https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/balloons-bands-celebrities-santa-macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-105118542#:~:text=This%20is%20the%2097th%20time,called%20NBC%20during%20the%20parade

https://guides.loc.gov/this-month-in-business-history/november/macys-thanksgiving-parade 

https://variety.com/2023/music/news/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-performances-2023-1235805392/ 

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About the Contributor
Thomas Samouhos, In-Depth Editor
Hills sophomore Thomas Samouhos is excited to be part of the Trailblazer for a second year. He joined the publication his freshman year as a staff writer and primarily wrote articles for the In-Depth section. This year, Samouhos is eager to cover In-Depth stories and work alongside his fellow editors. Fun fact: Samouhos loves to travel, with his latest getaway being Ocean City, Md.

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