Macy's Day Parade Float: How's it Made?

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    (Photo: Pilgrim Hall Museum)
    "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth", by Jennie Brownscombe offers an early 20th century perspective on the 1621 event. Courtesy Pilgrim Hall Museum.
By Justin Sarachik, Christian Post Reporter
November 23, 2011|11:49 am

Every year millions of people watch the Thanksgiving Parade whether actually there or live on television, but most don't consider the amount of work in this year long process of getting the floats and balloons together.

The famed Macy's day Parade of New York City sends 27 to 29 themed floats down the parade trail each year.

This year the parade will feature five new floats although most are made to last several years.

Although most viewers only see each float for a few minutes throughout the parade, these giant spectacles take up to six months to complete with teams of at least 24 people working on the float.

Marketing firms and Macy's get together to create and brainstorm ideas for the float, and once an agreement is reached they sign a three year contract.

From there, the Macy's studio team takes over first drawing a sketch then making a table top model.

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Macy's spokesperson, Orlando Veras, told Time: “It is not your traditional way. It is not like a flatbed with some fringe on it.”

Another important factor float builders have to consider is the amount of space they have for each float. The floats need to be able to fit through the Lincoln Tunnel and its toll booths. The trickiest part is getting them to fold and bend in ways to make them able to squeeze through.

"How does everything need to be built?” Veras said to Time about the process. “We see what needs to be craned over, what pieces need to fold and where everything can be stored. Can the head of the turkey fit between the leg of something else, for example?”

Characters are created with metal frames and foam bodies on elaborate sets as sculptors shape the foam and painters give it a fiberglass like treatment.

The importance of the floats are they are made from scratch just like Thanksgiving meals.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving Parade float?

 

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