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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Guide 2021

November 19, 2021 | 5 min Read

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is a memorable event marking the start of the holiday season, and if you’re lucky enough to be in New York for it, we’ve got the scoop on the 95th occurrence of the parade!

Broadcast across the country, the parade is synonymous with both New York City— its streets are a veritable runway for the parade— and with Macy’s whose grandiose flagship store conducts the parade with flair. For the young as well as the old, this is a uniquely American cultural event to experience at least once in a lifetime.

The Parade History

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an American tradition, dating back to 1920 when the first notable Thanksgiving procession was held by Gimbel Brothers Department Store. In 1924, Macy’s department store in New York hosted its first Thanksgiving Day Parade, not with Thanksgiving in mind, but as an inauguration of both the Macy’s Christmas window displays— and the shopping season ahead. The Parade route was a mere two-block radius, but with 6 miles of Parade floats and participants slowly passing through. 10,000 people turned out to watch the spectacle. The grand finale had Santa arriving at the store to unveil the Christmas window display. To contrast the first Thanksgiving Day Parade with current times, the parade now extends 26 miles.

The reason behind all the balloons? The first parade used real animals from the zoo who could be difficult to control and in 1927, live animals were replaced by helium-filled balloons. Felix the Cat, designed by Sarg, was one of the initial Parade balloons.

For historic photos visit this site.

The Parade Details

When: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place on Thanksgiving day, Thursday, November 25, 2021 from 9am to 12pm Eastern Standard Time. It is broadcast on NBC starting at 9 am in all time zones.

Where: Starting at West 77th Street & Central Park West the Parade travels down Central Park to Columbus Circle, continues along Central Park to 6th Avenue and Macy’s Herald Square. For an interactive map click here.

The Parade Balloons

There are three classes of balloons in the parade each year. The novelty balloon class are the smallest class and are handled by one to thirty people. They are not based on any corporation or franchise.The full-size class balloons are more widely known and primarily reference pop culture; each of these balloons requires ninety handlers! The final class, added in 2005 is called the “Blue Sky Gallery”, which recruits known artists to design and color a balloon. There are other classes such as the ballooncicle, spin offs on the classic parade balloons.

Parade Features, 2021

The parade will feature Ada from the Netflix series, Ada Twist Scientist. Ada is known for showing children the magic of science in the ordinary and everyday life. Her balloon will be 51 feet tall, 41 feet long and 29 feet wide. For reference she’s as tall as a 4 story building, as long as 7 bicycles and as wide as 6 taxi cabs! Grogu from the Star Wars series will also be joining Ada in the parade alongside other well-known cartoon characters.

But the parade is far more than just balloons. For the 5th consecutive year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is presenting a massive Christmas tree filled with a choir of Macy’s colleagues singing carols.

Furthermore, the parade is renowned for its live music and performances on moving floats including singers, bands, Broadway performers, cheerleaders and even the Rockettes put on a show at Herald Square. It’s also an opportunity for college and high school marching bands from across the country to play for a nation-wide audience. The parade finale is signaled by the arrival of Santa to Macy’s Herald Square.


Where to Watch

There is no reserved seating for the Parade. All viewing is first come, first serve so it’s best to get up with the sun for a good vantage. Earlier risers tend to camp out along the West side of the street on Central Park West from 59th to 75th streets, where the Parade cruises through from 9-10:30 am. Those who like to sleep in a little catch the parade further along its route on 6th Avenue. Viewing is discouraged, however, from 34th to 38th streets and at Macy’s Herald Square due to television filming.

For more detailed information and other FAQs, including safety precautions see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade home page.

About The Lombardy Hotel

The Lombardy Hotel’s timeless elegance is iconic to Midtown Manhattan. Not only are our rooms spacious, comfortable and thoughtfully designed to make you feel at home. We look forward to hosting you on your next visit to New York City.

*Due to Covid-19 our restaurant, cafe and gym will remain closed for a time.

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