Few traditions are more entrenched in the American psyche than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This Thursday, several hundred thousand people will line Broadway and millions will take a break from preparing their turkey to gather around their television to watch the procession of floats, marching bands, and massive balloons.
And while the parade has long been a part our country’s lexicon, few people know that all of the floats and balloons are dreamt up and created in a nondescript former Tootsie Roll factory near Hoboken’s northern border.
A group of 24 employees, including skilled artisans, aeronautic experts, electricians, and balloon handlers, work 365 days a year to bring these symbols of popular culture to life every Thanksgiving morning.
This year’s edition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature 12 giant helium character balloons, 48 giant novelty ornament balloons, 33 floats, 1,200 cheerleaders, 800 clowns, and a host of celebrities and bands. All told, over 10,000 people will participate in the parade.
For those who can’t wait until Thursday morning to see the balloons inflate, visitors can head to 77th and 81st streets between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West on Thanksgiving eve from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Over 250,000 people visit “Inflation Station” each year.
The parade itself will be held on be held Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. It will begin at 78th Street and Central Park West. It proceeds to Columbus Circle and turns onto Broadway. The parade marches down Broadway and turns west on 34th Street, just past Macy’s Herald Square. The parade finishes at Seventh Avenue.