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Thanksgiving Day Parade Takes a New Turn

For many people, Thanksgiving means turkey, pumpkin pie, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year, parade lovers will find that the event has a new twist—or rather, a new turn.

For the first time, the parade will not march down Broadway through New York City’s famous Times Square. 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.

From the Museum to Macy’s

The parade’s route, or path, was changed one other time in the parade’s 83-year history. In 1946, the starting point was moved to 77th Street from 145th Street. The parade still begins there, in front of the American Museum of Natural History.
As always, this year’s parade will end in front of Macy’s department store.
 
Balloons Still Flying High

Much about the 2009 parade will still be familiar. Huge crowds of viewers will line the streets. Marching bands and floats will pass by, along with giant helium balloons that fly above the crowds. Some new balloons—including Mickey Mouse dressed as a sailor and an updated Spiderman—will fly this year. Favorite characters like Buzz Lightyear, Snoopy, and Shrek will return.

Parades Past

The first Macy’s parade was held on Thanksgiving Day in 1924. Back then, it was called the Macy’s Christmas Parade. Live animals from New York’s Central Park Zoo marched along with the bands! In 1927, the animals were replaced with the now-famous giant helium balloons.

For three years, from 1942 to 1944, the parade was not held. World War II was going on, and no one felt like celebrating. In 1945, the parade returned and was shown on television for the first time.

Parade Facts

  • 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.
  • The parade has ended each year with Santa Claus, except in 1933. That year he led the parade.

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