10 Impressive Facts About the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - Season 91
Peter Kramer/NBC

Let’s have a parade! The 97th edition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will wend down the streets of Manhattan on Thursday, November 23, with live coverage on NBC and Peacock starting at 8:30 a.m. Eastern and spanning three and a half hours for the first time in the parade’s history.

This 2023 show will involve 5,000 volunteers, 16 featured character balloons, 26 fantastic floats, 32 heritage and novelty balloons, more than 700 clowns, 12 marching bands, and nine performance groups.

Performers this year, meanwhile, include Cher, Brandy, Katharine McPhee, Ashley Park, and Pentatonix, as well as the casts of Broadway’s & Juliet, Back to the Future: The Musical, How to Dance in Ohio, Shucked, and Spamalot. And you can’t kick off the holiday season without the high-kicking Radio City Rockettes, of course.

But do you know how much work — and helium — goes into the annual event? (Talk about inflation!) Read on for staggering statistics about the big parade.

The parade has been held almost every year since 1924.

Macy’s called off the Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1942, 1943, and 1944, on account of World War II, as the department store recaps.

The tallest balloon this year is 56 feet, the height of a five-story building.

Goku balloon floats during the 95th-annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 25, 2021 in New York City.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

That’d be Goku, hero warrior of the the Dragon Ball franchise. The longest balloon is Leo, the lizard from the Netflix film of the same name, at 73 feet. The widest balloon is Monkey D. Luffy, from the animated series One Piece, at 39 feet.

Balloons in the parade can weigh 400 pounds and hold 12,000 cubic feet of helium.

And Newsweek adds that the balloons are manned by up to 90 people and tethered to vehicles driving along the parade route.

The 2023 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature the ninth Snoopy balloon.

Beagle Scout Snoopy, a nod to the 50th anniversary of Peanuts’ Beagle Scouts, will make his debut in the 2023 parade, with best friend Woodstock along for the ride on his hat brim.

Balloon pilots walk the 2.5-mile route backward.

These pilots are in charge of gauging weather conditions and instructing their crews to change the height and angle of the balloons accordingly, per Vanity Fair.

This year’s largest float is 3.5 stories tall.

That’d be Santa’s Sleigh, which is also 60 feet long and 22 feet wide and depicts Santa and his reindeer taking flight from the roof of his North Pole workshop.

The floats have to break down to make it through New York City’s Lincoln Tunnel.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Ralph Bavaro/NBC

“Each float becomes about the size of a city bus, and then we take it through the Lincoln Tunnel to the Upper West Side,” executive producer Will Coss explained to ABC 7 in 2022.

The Parade Studio team puts in more than 8,000 hours of work to put on the show.

More than two dozen painters, carpenters, animators, sculptors, welders, scenic/costume designers, electricians, and engineers work from the Parade Studio’s 72,000-square-foot headquarters.

The studio uses 2,000 gallons of paints and 375 paint brushes.

Other supplies required include 300 pounds of glitter and 200 pounds of confetti.

Al Roker is hosting his 29th Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Meanwhile, Savannah Guthrie is hosting her 12th year of the parade, and Hoda Kotb is hosting her sixth.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, November 23, 8:30a/7:30c, NBC & Peacock