Ultimate Guide to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

By: Kathleen Seiler Neary  | 
Astronaut Snoopy balloon, Macy's parade
Balloon handlers begin to walk the Astronaut Snoopy balloon out into the 93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Astronaut Snoopy will be back for the 96th Macy's parade in 2022. Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

On the fourth Thursday of the month, the same day that most Americans gather around the dining table and gobble turkey to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade marches through the streets of New York City. Elaborate floats, marching bands, clowns and celebrities create a carnivalesque atmosphere. But the main attraction is the parade's giant helium balloons, many of which are depictions of cartoon characters.

For 96 years, the parade has drawn spectators who line the streets and cheer on the participants. "Since its first march in 1924 and through the decades, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has served to bring joy to the millions who gather nationwide each year to experience it with friends and family," said Will Coss, executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in a press statement. "This November, as we once again set the stage for the start of the holiday season, we are thrilled to showcase another spectacle full of magic and wonder that will help create everlasting memories with loved ones during this special time of year."


The parade starts its 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) route at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9 a.m.; from there it goes to Columbus Circle turning onto Central Park South and heading down Sixth Avenue before turning west at 34th Street and ending at 7th Avenue in front of Macy's Herald Square.

In this article, we'll look at the history behind the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and how the parade's balloons and floats are created. We'll also look at some balloon-wrangling mishaps and learn about the logistics involved in staging a show for an audience of millions.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade FAQ

How many miles is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade stretches 2.5 miles (4 kilometers), typically starting at 77th Street and Central Park West and ending in front of Macy's flagship store at Herald Square (at 34th Street).
Where does the Macy's Day Parade start?
The parade usually begins at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9 a.m.
Where can I watch the Macy's Day Parade?
The Macy's Thanksgiving parade will air in the U.S. on NBC and CBS on Thanksgiving morning. You can also livestream it through the NBC and CBS apps.
What is the last float in the Macy's Parade?
As is the tradition, the last float of the parade carries Santa Claus, ushering in the start of the Christmas season.
Why did Macy's Start the Thanksgiving Day Parade?
The parade took shape during the Roaring '20s, a time of prosperity and pleasure in the U.S. It was staged by Macy's employees, many of whom emigrated to America from Europe and longed to stage a celebration similar to the ones in their countries.