The pageant is known for its floats, costumed revellers, brass bands and enormous balloons of popular cartoon characters like Snoopy, Paddington Bear and The Grinch, always a surreal sight coasting between the skyscrapers.
Following a scaled-back event in response to the Covid pandemic, this year’s parade will be back to full strength and feature 27 giant character blimps, 31 floats, 7 balloonicles, 12 marching bands and, of course, Santa Claus bringing up the rear.
The world’s largest pageant has taken place every year since 1924 when it was first introduced by the famous department chain, whose flagship store sits on 34th Street.
Now in its 96th instalment, the event no longer features wild animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo as it did in its inaugural year.
Macy’s version, concluding with the welcoming of Old Saint Nick into Herald Square, quickly eclipsed the preceding Ragamuffin Day, which had seen children go from door-to-door dressed as beggars to collect sweets, a similar practice to Halloween trick-or-treating.
The advent of the Great Depression, which left many in a state of real destitution, saw Ragamuffin Day gradually phased out altogether on good taste grounds.
Balloons were first introduced to the Macy’s lineup at the suggestion of Anthony Frederick Sarg, a marionette performer tasked with designing the store’s seasonal window display.
He did so using giant balloon animals custom-built by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio, which proved so popular with shoppers they were taken out on tour with the marchers in 1927, replacing the zoo animals.
The first character from popular culture to be featured is thought to have been Felix the Cat in 1931, with the all-American Mickey Mouse not taking a bow until 1934.
Following the US entry into the Second World War, the parade was suspended between 1942 and 1944 but was revived for the jubilant Thanksgiving of November 1945 and two years later played a prominent role in the film Miracle on 34th Street about a child’s encounter with the real Father Christmas working at the department store.
It has run smoothly ever since, barring the occasional burst balloon here and there, as when a gust of wind snagged one on a lamppost in Times Square in 2005 and injured two bystanders.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place in New York
Global events have meant security concerns have been to the fore in recent years, with the NYPD out in force and police sharpshooters stationed on Manhattan rooftops to keep a watchful eye over proceedings that could provide a target for acts of terror.
New balloons joining the line-up for 2022’s edition include Baby Shark, Bluey and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, while Broadway will be represented by the casts of the Tony Award-winning musicals, Moulin Rouge! The Musical and SIX.
The Rockettes will be there, while Mariah Carey will open the parade. The singer will be joined by a number of other celebrities, including Gloria Estefan, Paula Abdul, Big Time Rush, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Fitz and the Tantrums, Mario Lopez, Ziggy Marley, Sean Paul, and Jordin Sparks
The parade takes place between 9am EST and noon on 24 November, Thanksgiving morning, and its route runs, as usual, south from West 77th Street & Central Park West on the Upper West Side to Macy’s Herald Square in the Garment District.
The big show will be officially broadcast in its entirety on NBC, with Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker fronting a three-hour show, while CBS will also be airing coverage of its own.
You can also catch the parade online across a range of streaming platforms that carry NBC, including Peacock, Paramount+ and streaming services that offer live TV content like Hulu, YouTube TV, DirectTV Stream and Fubo.