With hours remaining until the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off, it worth spending a moment to discuss how the parade that will be watched by 50 million viewers actually operates. The starting point of the parade is the Macy's Parade Studio. The floats which will entertain viewers as they make their way down the streets of New York City are maintained, groomed, and decorated by a staff of 28 full-time employees.
There isn't a lot of supervisory work to be done at the studio. Most of the employees are hands-on carpenters, engineers, painters, sculptors, and welders. Hard skills are what the job of creating floats requires. Along with that is an eye for artistic creativity. These employees literally take a vision and translate that to the reality of a towering float or balloon-based replica of famous super heroes or cartoon characters.
Logistics also form a big part of the parade preparations. It's one thing to design a large multi-story float, which is a massive undertaking in and of itself. However, it is another thing to design how it will survive passing through the Lincoln Tunnel or navigate the streets up to Manhattan's Upper West Side. Those artisans do their job and maintain the tradition started in 1924 by first generation immigrants proud to be living the American Dream.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today it is "certainly a possibility" some or all of the more than four dozen balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade could be grounded because of high winds.
"We've done a lot of training on this," Kelly said. "The balloons as you know can be lowered to various heights. They can be lowered all the way down or they can be eliminated, not brought out at all. These are decisions that will be made as we go forward, depending on weather conditions."
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ow Macy's Thanksgiving Parade comes together