Tech, History At Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

If getting up early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is your family’s tradition, you’re in good company. Very few may remember the first parade, as its in its ninetieth year. Of course, the parade has evolved with some new additions — some age-old traditions still keep — but namely, technology upgrades are distinct this year.

More than 50 million people are expected to tune in to watch the fantasy floats, high-flying balloons and a slew of celebrities start at 77th St. and walk down Central Park West, ending at Macy’s Herald Square location in Manhattan. For those brave enough — and bundled up enough — to flank the streets in person, there will be 3.5 million standing there as well, cheering and adding to the excitement.

Macy’s says the planning for this year’s parade started back 13 months ago and wanted to honor both the parade’s history and what marches ahead in the future.

Indeed, the technology alone has evolved. This year, Macy’s has two mobile apps affiliated with the parade. On its site will be 3-D and virtual reality-like images and videos walking parade fans through the history of the parade, including what each decade looked like. A narrator will provide factoids, while fans can point the mouse and swirl around the space — from the two-block-long procession of the first parade to the first time 1 million people showed up to watch the parade, to the 1942 cancellation of the parade in light of WWII, to Howdy Doody and Ginger Rodgers joining the parade in the 1950s, to the show going on after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to the Diana Ross and Broadway shows popping into the parade 1970s, and on through the decades to the present.

App-wise, there is a slew of data that Macy’s is offering for those who choose to make the download — from learning the exact parade route to regional transportation options, traffic cameras with a real-time view, dining locations along the route and the ability to track more than a dozen dance groups, marching bands and, of course, Santa’s float.

And, if anything else, there’s a slew of interesting numbers to keep in mind — and show off with — as the event begins at 9 a.m. Eastern on NBC.

Pay attention, or you’ll miss:

  • 16 giant character balloons
  • 26 floats
  • 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers
  • 1,000 clowns graduating from Macy’s Clown U
  • 16 marching bands and performance groups from across the country
  • 8,000 volunteers
  • Santa’s sleigh at 60 feet long, 22 feet wide and 3.5 stories tall
  • 50 to 100 handlers per balloon
  • Tony Bennett, Chloe x Halle, NHL players and three U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists


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