Every Thanksgiving, New York City celebrates the cherished American holiday with a grand spectacle – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The immense parade marches through the canyons of Manhattan with giant helium balloons, extravagant floats, marching bands, thousands of clowns and celebrity performances.
Annually more than three and a half million spectators attend the parade. Another fifty million viewers watch the national telecast. The climax of the festivities is the arrival of Santa Claus, which launches America’s holiday season!
Here’s what to know about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
History of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
In 1924 a group of Macy’s employees staged the first parade.
That parade, which marched through West Harlem, featured costumed employees, floats, bands, and animals from the Central Park Zoo.
The first giant helium balloon was introduced to the parade in 1927, and the event continued to grow in size and popularity through the decades. In 1946, the parade was televised for the first time.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become a national holiday tradition. In fact, Macy’s and the parade are so integral to American pop culture they were the subject of the classic 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street!
Attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The 90th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will march on November 24th, 2016. The parade kicks off at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9am.
The parade travels down Central Park West to Columbus Circle, then turns east onto Central Park South. At Sixth Avenue/Avenue of the Americas the parade turns again, marching south to 34th Street and Macy’s Herald Square. It concludes there at noon.
The parade route offers 2.5 miles of public viewing. The best viewing locations are along the west side of Central Park West, the southern sidewalk of Central Park South, and along Sixth Ave. (Bleacher seating is placed along the borders of Central Park, which are reserved for Macys’ guests. Tickets for this seating are not for sale).
There is no public viewing south of 38th Street or north of 75th Street. Spectators typically begin to line Central Park West at around 6am.
For spectators with special needs, designated, secure areas are available along the parade route. Contact Healing Arts Initiative at 212-575-7660 for details.
Can’t make it to the parade? You still can watch the live broadcast on NBC. The telecast features an hour of entertainment in front of Macy’s Herald Square, which includes performances by the Radio City Rockettes and casts of current Broadway shows.
Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation
Another great New York holiday tradition – viewing the Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation the day before Thanksgiving.
Visitors can get relatively close to the giant helium balloons as they spring to life while being inflated (from 3pm to 10pm at the American Museum of Natural History). You can enter the special balloon inflation areas surrounding the museum beginning at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue.