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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrates its 85th year

by jmaloni
Wed, Nov 23rd 2011 10:00 pm
The Kermit the Frog float. (NBC photo)
The Kermit the Frog float. (NBC photo)

America's favorite holiday tradition, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade returns to dazzle and enchant millions nationwide on Thursday, Nov. 24, beginning at 9 a.m. on NBC in all time zones. The 85th anniversary Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will take to the streets of New York City with a cornucopia of whimsical treats for the whole family. From new giant character helium balloons, including Paul Frank's iconic monkey "Julius" and "Sonic the Hedgehog," to out-of-this world floats including "ZHU-NIVERSE!" and "Frozen Fall Fun," the magic begins at the sound of "Let's Have A Parade!"

"The 85th anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," to air later in the evening, is a look back at 85 years of one of America's greatest holiday traditions. Hosted by Matt Lauer, the special will feature the floats, balloons and performances that make the show one of the most watched spectacles every year.

Since its first national broadcast in 1948, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been the nation's star attraction. This year, the "Today Show's" Lauer, Ann Curry and Al Roker will treat viewers to Thanksgiving's best entertainment special. Stars joining the festivities this year include Rodney Atkins, the Big Apple Circus, Mary J. Blige, Cobra Starship, Neil Diamond, Michael Feinstein, The Fresh Beat Band, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne, Shelby Lynne, Mannheim Steamroller, China Anne McClain, Scotty McCreery, Ingrid Michaelson, the cast and Muppets of "Sesame Street," Savannah Outen, "Power Rangers Samurai," cast of Broadway's "Priscilla Queen of the Desert," Daniel Radcliffe and the cast of Broadway's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," Willard Scott, cast of Broadway's "Sister Act," cast of Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," Straight No Chaser, U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club, Johnny Weir, and Zendaya. In addition, the telecast will feature a special performance from the world-famous "Radio City Rockettes."

"Since the first storied march in 1924, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a call to celebration. Over the years, gathering to watch the Parade, whether in person or on television has become a tradition for families across the nation and synonymous with the start of the holiday season," said Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "This year as we celebrate 85 years of magical moments, we are truly humbled by the unique role the Macy's Parade now fills in the lives of Americans, and we are thrilled to celebrate this special milestone with an unparalleled line-up of new balloons, floats and the nation's best performers - all here to kick-off the spectacular holiday season."

Ready for it 85th anniversary edition, the parade of wonder will feature 15 giant character balloons; 44 novelty/ornament balloons, balloonicles and balloonheads; 27 floats; 1,600 cheerleaders, dancers and performance group members; 800 clowns; 11 marching bands; a host of celebrity performers, and the one-and-only Santa Claus.

Since 1927, the parade's signature balloons have captured the imagination of the world. First conceived by famed Macy's window designer and puppeteer Tony Sarg as upside-down marionettes, the balloons have grown to be one of the parade's signature elements. This year, taking flight in the 85th edition will be a jetpack sporting awesome monkey, "Paul Frank's Julius," and Sega's "Sonic the Hedgehog," which returns to the big show after its pioneering debut in 1993 as the procession's first-ever video game character.

Also joining the balloon procession is a special creation by world-renowned filmmaker and artist Tim Burton. "B.," a lonely balloon boy outsider with a special wish to fly in the Macy's Parade, will debut as the line-up's latest acquisition for its "Blue Sky Gallery" series. The airborne gallery features inflatable versions of artistic works by world-renowned modern artists. Previous marches have featured balloons by Tom Otterness, Jeff Koons, Keith Haring and Takashi Murakami.

Rounding out the new balloon cast will be the extremely outspoken and affable "Aflac Duck" balloonicle, a recreation of the 1948 "Harold the Policeman" balloon, and the winning design of Macy's nationwide Great American Elf Adventure, which invited the public to design a new elf balloon for the Parade - "Keith Lapinig's Gazer."

Returning buoyant balloon favorites will include "Buzz Lightyear," "Clumsy Smurf," "Diary of A Wimpy Kid," "Super cute" Hello Kitty," "Kermit the Frog," "Kung Fu Panda™," "Pikachu," "Pillsbury Doughboy," "Ronald McDonald," "Sailor Mickey," "Snoopy the Flying Ace," "Spider-Man," and "SpongeBob SquarePants."

The parade's wonder-filled floating stages depict the familiar and the out-of-this world. From a hometown hockey game with a twist to a wonderland of fun, the five new floats set to join the parading fun will have audiences mesmerized, leaving behind a trail of enchantment. Completing the convoy of 27 floats the magic on board for the ride include scenes depicting a "Turkey Day" slap shot showdown on the "Frozen Fall Fun" float, the celebration of the nation's beacon of hope and liberty on the "Gift of Freedom," the special nod to Macy's Parade history on the "Hats Off To Our Heritage" float, the frolicking celebration aboard "P.B. Polar Bear," and the zhany fun found on the "ZHU-NIVERSE!"

More information on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is available to the general public at www.macys.com/parade or via the Parade Hotline at 1-212-494-4495.

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