84 years of hot air

Matt Busekroos

There is nothing better than waking up on Thanksgiving morning to a roasting turkey in the oven, newspaper circulars in disarray on the kitchen table and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on in the background.

Since 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a treasured tradition. The first parade was officially called the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. The parade did not run during World War II, which is the only time in its history when the show did not go on according to plan. The government was short of rubber and helium, so balloons were deflated and donated as relief. The famous floats that are such an integral part of the parade were first introduced in 1969 and can stand up to 40 feet in length.

Quinnipiac alum Mike Germano participated in the parade two years ago as a balloon carrier for Dora the Explorer. Macy’s asks its community of family and friends to help with the parade and as a fan, Germano eagerly jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the experience.

“I made sure Dora didn’t fly away and listened to the directions of the pilot,” Germano said of his duties as a carrier for Dora.

After a 4 a.m. wake up call, Germano needed to be in the city by 6 a.m. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal for a parade that runs best when the sun is shining.
“[We were] sitting in the rain for hours,” he said, “and it was very windy.”
The experience was “a lot of fun” and “watching the little kids screaming” as Dora passed was rewarding, Germano said. Despite the gloomy weather conditions, Germano is open to walking in the parade again in the future.

Macy’s Thankgiving Day Parade has been a defining piece of pop culture history, featuring balloons of characters that have famously made their mark (Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and Popeye, among others). The parade was famously referenced in the “Friends” episode, “The One Where Underdog Gets Away.” The Underdog balloon became detached from its strings and flew across the Manhattan skyline. In real life, a similar event occurred when in 1927, the parade used helium filled balloons for the first time. Unfortunately, following the conclusion of the parade, the balloons were released and ruptured over the city. In general, the balloons usually maintain some stability, but sometimes offer up unwarranted surprises. In 1957, a downpour occurred and filled the Popeye balloon’s hat with water. The balloon veered off course and dumped water all over an unsuspecting audience.

“The 82nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” takes place Thanksgiving morning on Nov. 27. According to Entertainment Weekly, Miley Cyrus, David Archuleta, Kristin Chenoweth, James Taylor, the Cheetah Girls, Darius Rucker and Trace Adkins, among others, will perform during this year’s telecast. Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Al Roker will host the festivities from 9 a.m. to noon on NBC.