The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been around since 1924 (it’s actually the second oldest parade in the United States, after the Dunkin Donuts Parade) and it figures heavily every year into our Thanksgiving traditions. No matter what your age, it always seems like it’s one of those things that’s always on in the background on Thanksgiving morning while meals are being prepared and NFL games are being anticipated.
Before this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off on NBC, however, I thought we’d collect a few fun, interesting facts about the parade that you can share with family members during the awkward small talk portion of your Thanksgiving, before the crazy uncle opens the booze (see? He’s good for something).
1. Two years ago, thousands of files containing sensitive information from the Nassau County police department were shredded and used as confetti during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
2. Back in the 1920s, the city didn’t have a plan for deflating parade balloons, so after the parade ended, the balloons were simply released into the sky and would often float for up to a week. Offers of $100 rewards were stitched into the insides of the balloon for anyone that returned them. The practice of releasing balloons ended in 1933, after one of the balloons wrapped around an airplane’s wing and sent it into a tailspin.
3. Though NBC has been the official broadcaster of the parade since 1952, CBS carries unauthorized footage of the parade. However, the parade has been rerouted to avoid, as much as possible, those unauthorized cameras of CBS.
4. The microphones used by performers during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade are almost always non-functioning.
5. In 2008, Rick Astley Rick Roll’d the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Ironically, he earned more from that appearance than all the money he ever earned from YouTube for the RickRolling parodies ($12).
6. Between 1942 and 1945, the parade balloons were recycled into 650 pounds of rubber and donated to the war effort. Here’s some footage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade a few years before, in 1939.
7. In the history of the Macy’s Parade, there have been several mishaps with parade balloons, though perhaps none as significant as the one involving Kathleen Caronna after a Cat in the Hat balloon knocked over a lamppost that fell down on top of Caronna’s head, sending her into a coma. After she woke up, she sued for $395 million, but settled for an undisclosed amount.
8. In 2011, producers Producers Scott Glassgold and Raymond Brothers closed a deal for the rights to turn the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade into a feature film that would have included balloons springing to life. It was expected to be in the vein of Night of the Museum. Fortunately, that movie has not yet come to fruition.
9. In 2010, after Kanye West ruined Taylor Swift’s moment during the MTV Music Awards, Kanye was roundly booed by spectators after he began performing on a float during the parade. Onlookers could be heard chanting “Taylor! Taylor!” and yelling, “You’re an a**hole, buddy,” and “Hey Kanye, jump!”
10. One of the coolest Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons ever was actually designed by Tim Burton, who created B.Boy out of “the leftover balloons used in children’s parties at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.”