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88th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade marks start of holiday season with nation's most beloved spectacle

by jmaloni


Mon, Nov 3rd 2014 04:35 pm
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Parade airs live 9 a.m. to noon (all time zones) Thanksgiving morning

As the nation gathers to celebrate and give thanks with family and friends, the biggest spectacle of the holiday season returns to entertain millions, as the 88th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade returns to NBC Thursday, Nov. 27 (9a.m.-noon in all time zones.) Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie of NBC's "Today" will anchor the broadcast.

More than 8,000 participants, some donning clown costumes, handling balloon giants or striking up the band will set down the streets of Manhattan at the sound of the time honored catchphrase "Let's Have a Parade." With a live audience, more than 3.5 million strong and a nationwide television gathering of more than 50 million viewers, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is the nation's most beloved holiday pageant.

The star power on Thanksgiving Day comes courtesy of performers from music, film, sports, theater and television. As they reach their marks on 34th Street, the nation will enjoy their unique performances. Joining the festivities this year are the Big Apple Circus, Before You Exit, William Blake, Sabrina Carpenter, Cirque du Soleil, Hilary Duff, Renee Fleming, Becky G., Lucy Hale, Nick Jonas, KISS, Sandra Lee, The Madden Brothers, Idina Menzel, Miss USA 2014- Nia Sanchez, MKTO, the cast and "Muppets of Sesame Street," NEEDTOBREATH, NHL legends John LeClair and Pat LaFontaine, Pentatonix, Romeo Santos, Cole Swindell, Meghan Trainor, The Vamps, Quvenzhané Wallis and more.

Kicking off the march will be a special group of children who have embodied the parade's spirit of teamwork. Throughout their remarkable run this past season at the Little League World Series, Philadelphia's Taney Dragons displayed an inspiring level of collaboration, spirit and camaraderie - as perfectly evidenced by the group's embrace and support of pitcher Mo'ne Davis. In honor of that exemplary effort this year, the Taney Dragons will lead the procession down the streets of Manhattan with Macy's Parade executive producer Amy Kule.

"Like turkey dinner and gathering with family, tradition means everything on Thanksgiving, and we're thrilled to once again telecast the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," said Doug Vaughan, executive vice president, special programs and late night, NBC Entertainment. "It's an annual heartwarming event that helps celebrate the holiday season."

From its humble beginnings in 1924 to the spectacular of today, the Macy's Parade lineup unfolds each year in grand fashion. It's not just a parade marching down an avenue; it is a march through tradition, history and popular culture. The magic parade's famed lineup this year features 16 giant character balloons; 33 novelty/ornament balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 27 floats; 1,300 cheerleaders and dancers; 1,000 clowns; 12 marching bands; and a host of celebrity performers.

"This is a record-breaking year for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, as we debut the largest new cast of giant character balloons ever assembled, along with five amazing new floats. Tens of millions of spectators will be amazed by what we have in store," Kule said. "In addition to an incredible lineup of celebrity performers, America's best high school and college marching bands, hundreds of dancers, cheerleaders, clowns and balloon handlers, we are adding some new layers of interactivity to the parade for the first time this year. From live cameras on a float capturing special moments along the route to incredible 360-degree panoramic photos where fans can find themselves part the action, and finally, through our 'Confetti Carpet,' the behind-the-scenes look at the starting line with our celebrity performers, we are bringing the Macy's Parade closer to audiences in New York City and in homes across the country."

Giants In The Sky

The parade's signature giant balloons have, for decades, showcased the world's most recognized characters. From comic strips and cartoons to films, video games and the collective pop culture psyche, these giants are a cast of wonder. Starting with a simple paper sketch and transformed via science and engineering by Macy's "Balloonatics" into highflying art, the giants of wonder will return to inspire and amaze.

This year, Macy's will introduce the biggest class of new balloons in its history. Six new giant characters will take to the sky, including the loveable Peruvian bear Paddington; the always electrifying Pikachu; the warm giggling Pillsbury Doughboy; the vanquisher of evil the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger; the lava-spewing Skylanders Eruptor; and the friendly locomotive Thomas the Tank Engine.

Rounding out the ballooning lineup are returning favorites including "Adventure Time with Finn & Jake," "Diary of A Wimpy Kid," "The Elf on the Shelf," Hello Kitty, Papa Smurf, Ronald McDonald, Snoopy and Woodstock, Spider-Man, SpongeBob SquarePants and Toothless of "How to Train Your Dragon."

In addition, the balloon cast includes new balloonicles (a Macy's Parade hybrid of cold-air balloon and vehicle) of the famed-spokesduck the Aflac Duck and Cloe the Holiday Clown, as well as the return of the KOOL-AID Man. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the film classic, balloonheads of "The Wizard of Oz" characters will also make a special appearance.

Floating Scene Makers

Macy's floating stages take to the streets bringing a collection of whimsical treats that transport spectators into worlds of fantasy. These 360-degree masterpieces are created by Macy's Parade Studio's team of designers, carpenters, painters, animators, metal fabricators and electricians, who work to bring the initial visions on a sketch pad to larger-than-life form. While creativity is key, the team also must factor a very big detail when designing these marvels: These sometime three-stories-tall and several-lanes-of-traffic-wide creations must collapse to no more than 12-1/2-feet tall and 8-feet wide in order to safely travel from the New Jersey studio to the Manhattan starting line.

This year's five new fantasy floats include Cracker Jack Popcorn's "At the Ball Game"; Sino-American Friendship Association's "Beauty of Beijing," Dora and Friends: "Aventuras Fantasticas," GoldieBlox's "The Girl-Powered Spinning Machine" and Pirate Booty's "Treasure Hunt."

The returning float roster includes 1-2-3 Sesame Street; Big Apple; Bridge To The Future; Daytime, Play Time, Night Time Too...; Dreamseeker by Cirque du Soleil; Enchanting World of Lindt Chocolate; Frozen Fall Fun; Goldfish on Parade; International Cele-bear-ation Clock Tower; It's All Rock & Roll; Marion-Carole Showboat; Mount Rushmore's American Pride; On The Roll Again; Pep Rally; Santa's Sleigh; The Smurfs; Stirrin' Up Sweet Sensations; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Tom Turkey; Waves of Conservation; Winter Wonderland In Central Park; and A World at Sea.

Drum Roll, Please ...

At the center of the spectacle bringing the warm energy, enthusiasm and joy of performing are the nation's best marching bands and rollicking performance groups. Together, they add the musical heart and whimsical talent portion to the holiday revelry, delighting spectators along the route and providing television viewers with showstopping performances. Twelve performance ensembles will take up the call of the baton and march down the streets of Manhattan creating a wave of excitement.

Joining the Thanksgiving Day revelry are American Fork High School (American Fork, Utah), Bahama All Stars Marching Band (Nassau, Bahamas), Baldwinsville High School (Baldwinsville), Center Grove High School (Greenwood, Indiana), Foothill High School (Henderson, Nevada), Georgia State University (Atlanta), Macy's Great American Marching Band (United States), Madison Scouts Anniversary Corps (Madison, Wisconsin), NYPD Marching Band (New York City), Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Lexington, Kentucky), Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, North Carolina), and Winston Churchill High School (San Antonio).

The supply of sometimes wacky, but always fun entertainment includes the nation's best performance groups. Taking the spotlight along the line of march are the Friendswood High School Wranglerettes (Friendswood, Texas), Harlem Globetrotters, The New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies featuring Music Ambassador DJ Hektik (New Orleans), Red Hot Mamas (Post Falls, Idaho), Spirit of America Dance (United States) and Varsity Spirit Cheer (United States).

On Broadway

Also included will be high-stepping numbers from this season's Tony Award-winning Best Musical "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," Sting's "The Last Ship," "On the Town," "Side Show" and "Finding Neverland." The Broadway spectacle will feature a special sneak preview performance from NBC's "Peter Pan Live!" premiering Dec. 4.

For more than 35 years, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a premier showcase for Broadway, casting a major spotlight on its brightest stars and the best musicals hitting the theater boards in New York City. This year is no different, with Broadway vets including Idina Menzel ("If/Then," "Wicked," "Rent"), Sting ("3 Penny Opera") performing with the cast of "The Last Ship," and Nick Jonas ("How to Succeed," "Les Misérables") also joining the festivities.

The 88th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will step-off at 77th Street and Central Park West. The procession will travel down to Columbus Circle, turn onto Central Park South and march down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street. At 34th Street, the parade will make its final turn west and end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy's Herald Square. A "Holiday Treat for Children Everywhere" has been the guiding motto of this annual national tradition for more than eight decades and is one that continues to this day.

Note: All talent, performances, lineup and information included are subject to change.

For more information on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, visit www.macys.com/parade or call the parade hotline at 212-494-4495. Follow @macys and join the conversation at #MacysParade on various social networks.

For more information, visit http://www.nbc.com/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade.

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