Beloved Family Tradition Celebrated Day Before Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

By Janita Kan

Every year millions of people come together to watch giant character balloons float between New York skyscrapers, before heading home to a huge Thanksgiving feast. But there is a smaller tradition that thousands of families enjoy the day before the great parade—the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation.

Hundreds of people lined the streets from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue on Nov. 21, to get a glimpse of the 16 balloons that would feature in the 92nd annual Thanksgiving parade.

This year four new balloons joined the lineup—Fleck, Bjorn, Jojo and Hugg from The Christmas Chronicles, Little Cloud by FriendsWithYou, Saiyan warrior Goku from Dragon Ball, and Sunny the Snowpal—along with old favorites like Charlie Brown from Peanut, The Elf on the Shelf, Olaf from Frozen, and Chase from Paw Patrol. The parade will also feature 43 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, and Macy’s newly invented balloonicles, balloonheads, and trycaloons.

One of the new balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation event on Nov. 21, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

John Piper, vice president of production at Macy’s Parade Studio, said many balloon ideas were inspired by children.

“It doesn’t matter how old they are. They could be young kids, the older kids, the millennial,” he said.

Some spectators said the balloon inflation event is important to them since it gives families an opportunity to get together right before Thanksgiving.

“Well, we have my little cousins over here. They love coming to see the balloons every year, so it’s kind of a family tradition,” said Lelaina Bendernagel, a nursing student from Long Island.

Holiday Season Begins

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began with a request from a group of Macy’s employees to the company, for a parade celebrating “their newfound freedoms and the coming of Christmas” in 1924. Exotic animals, jazz bands, and Macy’s staff dressed as gypsies and giants filled the ranks of the first procession that led the way to become one of America’s most popular parades.

Mayor Bill De Blasio said at a press conference on Nov. 21, that the parade signifies the start of the holiday season.

“This parade to us begins a season that goes all the way to when the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve,” he said.

He urged spectators for the parade to bundle up in warm clothing and brace for the upcoming cold weather.

Dog dressed in costume
A dog dressed in a turkey costume at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation event on Nov. 21, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The New York Police Department said there will be various layers of security, including a significant police presence and behind-the-scenes security measures, and reminded spectators to report any unusual activity.

“Anybody that attends the parade: have a good time, but be aware of your surroundings. If you see something that looks unusual, or that might make you uncomfortable, there’s going to be thousands of cops there. Flag somebody down, give us a chance to investigate it,” NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill said in a tweet.

Additional reporting by NTD Reporters Brendon Fallon and Ilene Eng.