Macy’s parade ushers in Christmas season

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    By Irinna Schwenke

    Before the turkey and stuffing, the never-ending Bowl games and hours of on-again off-again nap time, millions of Americans will participate, via television, in one of Thanksgiving’s most well known traditions. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

    For over 70 years, Macy’s has given us a tradition which celebrates America and calls forth Christmas.

    “I love the Macy’s Parade. I have watched it from beginning to end every Thanksgiving morning for as long as I can remember,” said Liz Johnson, 20, a junior, from Orlando, Fla., majoring in marketing communications.

    The annual parade first hit the streets in 1924.

    According to the Macy’s Parade Web site at www.nyctourist.com/macys_news.htm, the parade stems from European traditions.

    Many of the department store employees were first generation immigrants. Looking for ways to recognize their new American heritage, employees celebrated the American holiday (Thanksgiving) with the type of festival they loved in Europe – a parade.

    Employees marched from 145th Street down to 34th Street dressed as clowns, cowboys, knights and sheiks. The first parade featured floats, professional bands and 25 live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was a hit.

    Seventy-four years later, the parade is still a smashing hit.

    According to a Macy’s news release, this year’s lineup will feature six new balloons, five new floats and one new falloon (Macy’s hybrid of a float with a balloon).

    Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald round up the famous cast of balloon stars this year.

    The new faloon is Greendog, a 24.5 foot high hybrid of cold air, inflatable balloon and float.

    “We make our own balloons and floats at the Macy’s Parade studios. It is a year long event and we start working on next year’s parade the day after Thanksgiving,” said Heidi Keller, press contact for Macy’s in New York City.

    Entertainers at this year’s big event include teen heartthrobs BBMak, country superstar Jo Dee Messina and teen pop stars Innosense, Keller said.

    Macy’s Parade is the largest and perhaps the most popular parade in the country. Many never get the chance to watch the parade on the streets of Broadway in New York City.

    BYU students Noelle and Marie Magelssen are taking the opportunity of the lifetime and hope to see this year’s parade in person.

    “I’m really excited to go to New York. I’ve never been there and if we can get seats at the parade, that would be awesome,” said Noelle Magelssen, 20, a junior, from Honolulu, Haw., majoring in broadcast journalism. “It is such a huge event and I would love to be able to watch it live for once in my life.”

    The parade holds a piece of loyal watchers’ hearts all over the country. The tradition of ushering forth of Christmas highlights the annual event.

    Since the 1950s, the parade has ended with Santa Claus making a special appearance in New York City’s Times Square.

    “I love how the parade ends with Santa Claus. It gets me excited about Christmas and gets me thinking about the New Year. It’s a nice way to ring in the holiday season,” Magelssen said.

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