Thanksgiving has arrived once more meaning the largest holiday celebration in the world is taking place; the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The iconic balloons, floats, and performances make us feel like a kid-at-heart each November. The parade has been a Thanksgiving tradition since 1924 and has charmed children and adults alike but behind the scenes, a lot of effort goes into creating the event that we couldn’t help but describe the parade by the specific statistics. Here are the numbers as you enjoy your Thanksgiving:
2.5 miles long: In case Al Roker hasn’t announced it hundreds of times, the parade stretches about 2.5 miles long starting at West 77th Street in Manhattan and ending at Macy’s in Herald Square. Specific areas of Manhattan featuring the parade include Columbus Circle and South Central Park, also not seen from TV cameras. About 3 million residents line these streets to watch their favorite performers march this Thanksgiving.
90 Balloon Handlers: While the floats are mainly responsible for carrying the balloons though the air, the cold wind makes this task quite tedious. Accidents involving the wind include Popeye the Sailor (1957) and Kermit the Frog (1985). As such, about 90 balloon handlers are expected to march to protect these balloons and, in the words of Macy’s, “being the balloon magic to life”.
28 Floats: Of course, balloons are only half of the Macy’s Magic. This year, Macy’s is expected 28 floats to chug along the streets of Herald Square. These floats consist of structural elements controlled by animatronic devices and towed along by various truck drivers across NYC. The largest and most important float is Santa Claus at over 60 feet long to ring in the holiday season.
500 Pounds of Confetti: Whether glitter or rainbow colored, confetti has been a staple at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, most notably at the start when the wire is cut. About 500 pounds of confetti will sprinkle on the balloons, floats, and pedestrian’s faces. About 1/3 of the confetti is used at the start, shining the streets of New York with Thanksgiving Cheer.
24 Million Pounds of Helium: With balloons over 300 feet in length, a lot of helium is required. In fact, it is so crucial that the company bared the parade throughout WWII to conserve some of the gas. Macy’s reports about 24 million pounds of helium will be used this year to inflate their balloons. Anticipated balloons this year include Spongebob Squarepants, the Kool Aid Man, and Snoopy.
50,000 Hours of Effort: With the largest parade in the world comes a large amount of preparation is required. As such, It is no surprise that Macy’s begins it’s construction as early as August! From the lineup to the design of the floats to practicing the performances, about 50,000 hours is put into creating the parade each year with electricians and designers working 24/7.
With this amount of effort and resources put into the parade, it is even more difficult not to appreciate the Thanksgiving Magic that is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While it’s unfortunate that most people tune out the parade halfway though, we hope understanding the magic behind the scenes will provide more appreciation for the event. Happy Thanksgiving!