Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade - 5 Fast Facts

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2016: What time; which balloons; how to watch

It’s a tradition that is nearly 100 years in the making.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which has signaled the start of the holiday season since 1924, draws 3 million people in person in New York City, and more than 50 million on television.

It’s set to go off Thursday in New York City with a cast of more than 8,000.

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s parade.

What time does it start?

9 a.m. ET. It is scheduled to last until noon ET.

How long is the parade route?

2.5 miles

What is the parade route?

The parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan. The parade will move south on Central Park West, at Columbus Circle, the Parade will then turn east onto Central Park South. When the Parade reaches 6th Avenue, it turns south to 34th Street. At 34th Street it turns west to Macy's Herald Square and ends at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.

Can I get a ticket?

It’s free to watch the parade. There are no tickets available to the general public for seating.

When was the first Macy's Thanksgiving day parade?

The first parade was held on Christmas in 1924.

Which balloons will we see this year?

• Buzz Lightyear

• Diary of a Wimpy Kid

• Horton ("From Horton Hears a Who")

• Kermit the Frog

• Pikachu

• Pillsbury the Doughboy

• Kung Fu Panda

• Ronald McDonald

• Sailor Mickey

• Shrek

• Smurf

• Snoopy

• Spider-Man

• Spongebob Squarepants

• Hello Kitty

What channel is it on?

The parade is broadcast on NBC.

Parade History

According to the New York Tourist Commission, the inaugural Macy's Day Parade took place on Christmas, 1924, and had an audience of 250,000 people. No giant balloons until 1927 when Felix the Cat showed up. The parade was first broadcast on radio in 1932.

The balloons are filled with 12,000 cubic feet of helium. They are inflated on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at the American Museum of National History from 3 p.m. -10 p.m.

While it may be the most famous, it isn’t the oldest Thanksgiving parade. The oldest one is the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.

Some numbers

• There are 12 marching bands in the parade. Three hundred bands apply.

• Those handling the balloons, 30 to 100 of them for each balloon, are volunteers.

• It costs around $190,000 for a first time balloon. It costs about $90,000 a year after that.

• It takes 15 minutes to deflate the balloon.

• Snoopy has the most Thanksgiving Day NYC Parade floats. Six different balloons since 1968.

• What will you see Thursday? More than a dozen giant balloons, nearly 30 parade floats, 1,500 dancers – more than 8,000 participants in all.

Sources: New York Tourist Commission; Macy's

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