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Behind the Macy's 2012 Thanksgiving Parade

Navigating 2012's new floats, balloons, and parade route


Behind the Macy's 2012 Thanksgiving Parade

Sent by Santa Claus to watch over good little boys and girls around the world, the Elf on the Shelf measured 46 feet tall, 28 feet wide and 64 feet long in the 2012 new Parade line-up.

Courtesy of Macy's Inc. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade & Related characters © 2012.

It's not easy creating one of the nation's most beloved holiday events, but the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off the holiday season in style on Thursday, Nov. 22 at 9 a.m., when the Macy's Parade took to the streets of Manhattan. A massive production beaming into millions of homes nationwide, this year's parade met its challenges with ease, debuting new floats and balloons, along with a new route along 6th Avenue.

The Macy's Parade by the Numbers

The Macy's Parade has marked the start of the holiday season since its inception in 1924. Set to create new memories and magical moments for more than 3 million live spectators and over 50 million viewers across the country, the 2012 line-up of wonder unfolded with 16 giant character balloons; 40 novelty/ornament balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 28 floats; 1,600 cheerleaders and dancers; 900 clowns; 11 marching bands; a host of celebrity performers and the one-and-only Santa Claus.

The 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade made history once again with the debut of "three impressive giant balloons, six over-the-top floats, an amazing array of talent and the most remarkable high school, college and professional marching bands in the nation," said Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. She added, "As it has during turbulent times in our history, we hope the Macy's Parade serves as a beacon of hope and renewal for all Americans who will gather with friends and family to give thanks this season and begin to heal from the devastating aftermath of Superstorm Sandy."

Marching A New Route

The 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade took its first steps in 2012 at 77th Street and Central Park West, with the procession then travelling down to Columbus Circle, turning onto Central Park South and marching down a new path via 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street. At 34th Street, the Parade made its final turn west and ended at 7th Avenue -- right in front of Macy's Herald Square. The new, broader path down 6th Avenue offered a more accessible route and was only the seventh time the Parade has changed its route in decades.

From Musicians to Medalists

Providing the star power on Thanksgiving were a multitude of performers from music, film, sports, theatre and television. Joining the festivities this year were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Trace Adkins; Big Apple Circus; Chica and the gang from Sprout; Colbie Caillat; Rachel Crow; Thirza Defoe; Jimmy Fallon & The Roots; Flo Rida; Whoopi Goldberg; Chris Isaak; Carly Rae Jepsen; Karmin; Kidz Bop; Christian Laettner; Sandra Lee; Mannheim Steamroller; Jennette McCurdy; Don McLean; Megan & Liz; Miss USA 2012 - Olivia Culpo; the Muppets and cast of Sesame Street; Neon Trees; Power Rangers Megaforce; Cody Simpson; U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber; The Wanted; and Food Network's Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian.

Adding to the Parade's signature entertainment were performances from Broadway's best musicals including Annie, Bring It On, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Elf, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. The world-famous Radio City Rockettes also joined the presentation to (literally) help kick off the holidays in style.

New Balloon Facts and Figures

Debuting in the ballooning lineup on Thanksgiving this year was Santa's favorite scout elf from the new beloved children's Christmas tradition The Elf on the Shelf, the loveable Hello Kitty© aboard her fabulous airplane, and Papa Smurf.

The Elf on the Shelf
CCA and B, LLC
The Elf on the Shelf took his first flight in the Macy's Parade this Thanksgiving. Sent by Santa Claus to watch over good little boys and girls around the world, the Elf on the Shelf took his reporting duties to new heights, measuring 46 feet tall, 28 feet wide and 64 feet long in the Parade line-up.

Hello Kitty©
Returning to the line-up to say hello to her many friends was the instantly recognizable Hello Kitty. Flying high in her new airplane, Hello Kitty soared with her trademark red bow and 1970's retro airplane design, standing at 36 feet tall, 38 feet wide and 50 feet long.

Papa Smurf
Sony Pictures Animation
Papa Smurf was ready for his big debut on Thanksgiving, sporting a festive bow tie and cane, and measuring 51 feet tall, 36 feet wide and 46 feet long.

New Floats in 2012

Setting the stage for wondrous adventures for the eyes of young and old were the Parade's signature floats, which set the scene for amazing performances. Joining the line-up this year were six new landscapes including the imaginative "Daytime, Play Time, Night Time Too...," the wonderland of "Goldfish on Parade," the beats lifestyle magic of "Music is Our Life," the hoops appreciation on board the "75 Years of March Madness," the home-baked goodies of "Stirrin' Up Sweet Sensations," and the ninja precision of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

New Float Facts and Figures

"Daytime, Play Time, Night Time Too..."
From morning to night, Sprout is a place where parents and kids can share everything from singing and dancing to birthday wishes and bedtime stories. Bringing this preschool TV vision to life, this colorful new float featured Chica the Chicken and all her friends from Sprout. From a playful barnyard to play time on a stream aboard a newspaper sailboat, and finally to a nighttime oasis atop a giant tree house, childrens' limitless imaginations took to the physical world in spectacular form. Aboard for the ride was the star of the "The Chica Show" herself, who performed "Squeaka Chica" with her friends for the holiday crowds.

"Goldfish on Parade"
Pepperidge Farm
Inspired by Macy's great American tradition, Finn and his Goldfish friends Gilbert, Brooke and Xtreme decided to have a parade and gathered up some books and toys to create a whimsical Thanksgiving Day procession. Finn led the way in a dapper top hat and shades as the parade's grand marshal. Xtreme usedpencils to "stilt walk" down the route, while Brooke drove the wind-up car which towed Gilbert on his float made of buttons, caps and a whistle. The march came to life as it seemingly jumped out of a New York City pop-up book. The Goldfish characters' vision wouldn't be complete without a balloon, and so Finn & Friends transformed a classic toy balloon into a flying wonder. On board for the Turkey Day fun was Nickelodeon star Jennette McCurdy singing "That's What Christmas Means To Me."

"Music is Our Life"
Gibson Corporation
Music surrounds us, overwhelms us and makes us feel alive each day, and the newest float in the Parade definitely took that statement to heart. Featuring a massive Gibson "Les Paul" Guitar as its centerpiece, the Music is Our Life float defined the ultimate entertainment experience, delivering a universal message of fun and excitement. Complete with full lighting and staging, the float paid tribute to the creative process and the enjoyment that entertainment brings to our lives each day. The multi-level stage included a DJ Booth, a simulated "club scene" complete with dancers and revelers, and featured a performance from Jimmy Fallon & The Roots.

"75 Years of March Madness"
March Madness took Thanksgiving aboard this new float styled after a basketball court that celebrated the 75th year of the NCAA's Division I Men's Basketball Championship. Hoops took center stage on the multi-level float featuring two regulation-sized basketball hoops, and which was also adorned with the pendants of the 34 colleges who have won the prestigious tournament during its 75-year history. On board to celebrate were a number of former student athletes including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of UCLA and Christian Laettner of Duke.

"Stirrin' Up Sweet Sensations"
Domino Sugar
This new Domino Sugar float featured a magical take on holiday baking. Designed and constructed by the artists of Macy's Parade Studio, the centerpiece of this 26-foot tall float was the giant cookie dough bowl and cookie press that dished out the confections. Three stories above the ground, a giant spoon stirred the cookie dough in an equally colossal bowl. As it travelled into the cookie press, the dough dropped in perfect dollops onto the turntable and finally into the oven. The savory treats were then baked a golden brown and shot down the ramp to the awaiting cars of the Cookie Express train, which was ready to deliver the yummy baked goodness to children everywhere. Set to add his down-home flavor to the mix was country superstar Trace Adkins who performed "Just Fishin'."

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are back! For the first time, Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles emerged aboard a new float designed by the artists of Macy's Parade Studio. The float unfolded with breathtaking ninja precision and featured a spectacular dark cityscape including rooftops, fire escapes, window ledges and a zipline down telephone wires. Taking a ride with the Turtles on their Thanksgiving journey were rockers Neon Trees singing their Top 5 smash hit "Everybody Talks."

"A Holiday Treat for Children Everywhere" is the guiding motto of this national tradition for nearly a century. For more information on this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, please visit www.macys.com/parade.

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