Americans get in holiday spirit with Thanksgiving parade

Story highlights

  • This is the 85th anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Among the new floats this year will be "Julius" and "Sonic the Hedgehog"
  • The parade will feature 11 of the country's most talented marching bands
Hard times continue for many Americans, but they will get a respite from all the gloom, with a reminder that the holiday spirit is upon us with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- a tradition through good times and bad, celebrating its 85th anniversary.
Homes across the country will be tuned in to watch the parade, most will have the smell of roasting turkey and stuffing wafting through the house, rekindling childhood memories and inspiring new ones.
The parade, so famous that the movie, "Miracle on 34th Street" centers on it, is august in its tradition, becoming the benchmark for pageantry and the official kick-off celebration to the holiday season.
Like most years, parade organizers attempt to mix the old and the new, introducing new floats along with classics. This tactic often makes adults feel their age when a child looks at the TV in bewilderment and asks, "What's a Smurf?"
This year, three new floats are being added to the parade and include Paul Frank's iconic monkey "Julius" and "Sonic the Hedgehog", to out-of-this world floats including "ZHU-NIVERSE" and "Frozen Fun Fall".
Some classics like Kermit the Frog and Buzz Lightyear, round off the 15 big balloon ensemble. The parade, as always, will feature 44 novelty/ornament balloons, balloonicles and balloonheads, 27 floats, 800 volunteer clowns, 1,600 cheerleaders and 11 of the country's most talented marching bands.
And while he won't be driving an electric car or a hybrid, Santa Claus, a fixture in the back of the parade for every year except 1933, when he led it, will finish up the parade in his 60 foot-long sleigh.
It all started with a modest get together. On Thanksgiving Day 1924, an ad hoc team of store employees assembled floats and animals from the Central Park Zoo.
At first, the parade was known as the "Christmas Parade." The employees, many of whom were European immigrants, decided to have a parade, a custom they brought from their native countries, to offer a show of thanks to a country that provided so much opportunity for them, according to "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," written by Robert M. Grippo and Christopher Hoskins.
The parade, first broadcast nationally in 1948, grew in popularity and generated a lot of money for the department store will begin at West 72nd St. charging down Seventh Avenue to Times Square, turn left and head to Sixth Avenue and travel south the last eight blocks to the store's famed flagship in Herald's Square on 34th Street.
For some city residents and tourists who will view the parade, the parade is a reminder that even in these challenging times, with so many people leaving 2011 worse off than when they went in, there are things to be grateful for.