Check out the science behind the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Image courtesy Macy's

The Turkey Trot

Our mind knows the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is yet another brick of crass commercialism in the wall known as late capitalism, but our heart just can’t get enough of the damn thing. So why not get some info on the tech and history behind the parade to keep your rational side occupied?

Those Magical Balloons
When it launched in 1924, the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” featured live animals – we’re talking lions, bears, elephants, and more. In 1927 the event was renamed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and giant balloons replaced the presence of wild, man-eating beasts in midtown Manhattan. Helium wasn’t introduced until the next year, however, when Felix the Cat and others were allowed to float above the city. Designed by Goodyear Tire, the balloons would be released into the sky at the parade’s end – they had address labels sewn in, so that the deflated balloon could be returned to the store.

Where the Magic Happens
Founded in 1969, Macy’s Parade Studio is responsible for every element of the parade’s spectacle. Business Insider offers a tour of the New Jersey warehouse where they design and construct all the floats and balloons used in Thanksgiving ritual. Remarkably, the space bears a striking resemblance to the set used in the legendary shoot out in Broadway Danny Rose.

There’s More Than One Balloon
Think those massive inflatables are all the same? Think again. There are falloons, cold-air balloons attached to a float. “Balooonicles,” cold-air balloons attached to self-propelled vehicles, were introduced in 2004. And in 2011, trycaloons, inflatables attached to tricycles, made their debut.

Get a Sneak Preview
If you’re going to be out of town on Thanksgiving, you can still catch the balloons at the Macy’s Parade Balloon Inflation at the American Museum of Natural History today from 3 to 10pm.

Now go forth (and happy Thanksgiving)!


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