Why Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Symbolizes the Start of the Holiday Retail Season

PLAY OF THE LAND

When it comes to kickstarting the holiday season, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sets the stage like no other celebration in the world. The quintessential parade is marching into its 92nd year with all the festive excitement and entertainment that makes it one of the largest and most popular spectacles on earth.

This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will redefine spectacle with a jaw-dropping mix of must-see entertainment for millions of spectators.

Synonymous with New York City in the fall and filled with rich history and traditions, this year’s celebration, which takes place Thursday, November 22 is expected to draw 3.5 million pedestrians to Manhattan. And for good reason. Where else can revelers see nearly 60 giant balloons spanning 53-feet long, 31-feet wide and 46-feet tall—26 floats, 23 stilt walkers, 1,000 clowns and four signature Broadway renditions on the East Coast? The answer is simple: They can’t.

“This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will redefine spectacle with a jaw-dropping mix of must-see entertainment for millions of spectators,” Susan Tercero, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade said in a release. “Featuring an amazing line-up of high flying balloons, dazzling animated floats, world-class marching bands and performance groups, the nation’s top music artists, and of course, the one-and-only Santa Claus, the Macy’s Parade will once again herald the arrival of the holiday season.”

The 2.5-mile long parade route, which starts at 77th & Central Park West south and culminates at the department store’s flagship store at 34th Street in Herald Square, might sound like a logistical nightmare, but it’s not. Thanks to intense planning that starts at least one year before the parade, coupled with the experience that comes with putting on the affair annually for nearly a century, the event typically goes off without a hitch.

Plus, less than 24 hours after the parade, retailers in the New York City area experience a boon with the influx of tourists and locals alike as the holiday shopping season shifts into high gear following Thanksgiving. In fact, in 2017, an estimated 174 million Americans shopped in brick-and-mortars and online during the holiday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

As more retailers employ omnichannel strategies that involve an intuitive e-commerce experience, consumers have more options when it comes to holiday shopping.

“The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season is centered around Thanksgiving, typically on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” says Andrew Goldberg, Vice Chairman of CBRE’s Tri-State Retail Practice Group. “As more retailers employ omnichannel strategies that involve an intuitive e-commerce experience, consumers have more options when it comes to holiday shopping. Shoppers who enjoy the in-store, Black Friday experience can still shop the in-person sales, but the rise in e-commerce affords other consumers the ability to shop at home. This allows people to spend more time with their families and take in the parade from the comfort of their own home.”

Originally a circus parade with live animals and organized by a small group of Macy’s employees dressed in costumes in 1924, the colorful parade has ballooned into a huge, one-of-a-kind event that people across the U.S. look forward to all year long. The annual event seamlessly blends holiday tradition and spirit—and even commercial real estate and retail—together in an indelible, magical way.

We take a look at the world-renowned fete through the years.

Elephants on parade in the first Macy’s Parade in 1924,…
This Balloonatics float in 1926 inspired the creation of the…
In 1927, Felix the Cat was the first balloon featured…
This gigantic dachshund balloon was released after the conclusion of…
In 1934, the first balloon based on a real person,…
There’s no holiday Parade without Santa Claus and this balloon…
Known for its Broadway renditions, this Broadway Belle Showboat is…
Color-coordinated balloon handlers keep the Underdog character flying high in…
This Flying Ace Snoopy, one of the most iconic cartoon…
Turkeys are synonymous with Thanksgiving so this Tom Turkey float…
Jim Henson’s popular Kermit the Frog character balloon looming over…
Inspired by American artist Jeff Koons’ iconic 1986 stainless steel…
New for 2018, Goku, from the anime science fantasy feature…
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