Thanksgiving Day Parade Takes a New Turn
For many people, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is as much a part of the holiday as the turkey and the pumpkin pie. Some parade lovers will notice that this year’s event has a new twist—or rather, a new turn.
For the first time, the New York City parade will not march down Broadway through the famous Times Square area. Instead, the bands and balloons will turn down Seventh Avenue.
Why the change? Cars and trucks are no longer allowed to drive down Broadway through Times Square. Last spring, the area became a pedestrian zone, or area for walkers only. So it is now off-limits to parade floats and the cars and trucks that pull them.
This may not seem like a big change, but it is huge for the businesses in Times Square. People who run hotels, shops, and restaurants along the old route are concerned about the change. They fear they may lose money now that the parade no longer marches past their doors.
“It’s not good for Times Square,” Mustapha ben Khallouk, an electronics salesman who works in the area, told the New York Times. “Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for us.”
From the Museum to Macy’s
The route was changed one other time in the parade’s 83-year history: In 1946, the starting point was moved from 145th Street to 77th Street, in front of the American Museum of Natural History.
As always, this year’s parade will end in front of the flagship, or main, Macy’s department store at Herald Square.
Balloons Still Flying High
Despite the new direction taken this year, much about the 2009 parade will be familiar. Throngs of spectators will line the streets as marching bands and floats pass by. Giant helium balloons will fly above the crowds. Some new balloons—Mickey Mouse dressed as a sailor, updated Spiderman and Ronald McDonald balloons, and the Pillsbury Dough Boy—will join crowd-pleasing characters such as Buzz Lightyear, Snoopy, and Shrek.
The first Macy’s parade was held on Thanksgiving Day in 1924. Back then, it was called the Macy’s Christmas Parade.
Macy’s put the balloons and bands on hold from 1942 to 1944, during World War II. No one felt like celebrating, and parade supplies like helium and rubber were needed for the war effort. In 1945, the parade returned and was shown on television for the first time.
- The 2009 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 26. It will be broadcast from 9:00 to 12:00 noon (in all time zones) on NBC.
- About 3 million viewers are expected to watch the parade in New York City. Another 44 million are expected to watch on TV.
- This year’s parade will feature 1,500 dancers, cheerleaders, singers, and performers. There will be 15 giant character balloons, 800 clowns, 24 floats, and 10 marching bands.
- Today, Macy’s is the world’s second-largest consumer of helium. (The United States government is the largest helium consumer.)
- The parade has ended each year with Santa Claus, except in 1933. That year he led the parade.
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