What It Takes to Put on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, by the Numbers

From the pounds of confetti used to the number of hours put in, Macy's added up all of the elements that bring the Thanksgiving Day Parade to life


Let's just say: There's a lot of confetti and glitter.

The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade attracts viewers from all over the world. Between the larger-than-life balloons and the iconic floats with show-stopping performances, there's much to be accounted for behind the scenes that bring the magic to life each year.

Did you ever want to know how many hours are put into creating the spectacular sight, or how many people take part in the parade? What about the height of the tallest balloon, or how many gallons of paint are used in all the designs? (BTW, the answer to that last one is 240 gallons, along with 375 paintbrushes, in case you were wondering!)

Maycys thanksgiving day parade book
Courtesy Rizzoli.

Fortunately, we have the answers because Macy's calculated every element that makes up the parade. As you prepare your holiday feast, below are some fun facts to chew on regarding everything that goes into putting on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade — by the numbers!

One Parade

We have to start with the most important number because the balloons, floats, performances and magic couldn't unfold if it weren't for the one and only Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This annual celebration is the kick-off to the holiday season and has been around for quite some time. The first parade occurred in 1924 and has been held every year except 1942, 1943 and 1944, when it was canceled due to World War II.

Courtesy Macy's

2.5 Mile Route

The parade route twists and turns down the streets of Manhattan, starting on West 77th Street and Central Park West and ending in front of the iconic Macy's flagship store on 34th Street in Herald's Square. The parade also passes through Columbus Circle, Central Park South and 6th Avenue.

Fun Fact: Two to three million people line the streets to get a glimpse of the action, according to NPR.

Three-Hour Broadcast

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is broadcast on NBC and Telemundo starting at 9 a.m. and lasts until noon in all time zones. It can be streamed on the network's streaming platform, Peacock, as well.

Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb
Eric Liebowitz/NBC

80 to 100 Balloon Handlers

Magic wouldn't be in the air if the balloons didn't fly high in the sky. We're not just talking about little latex balloons on a string. We're talking giant balloons typically guided by 80 to 100 uniformed handlers!

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

Fun Fact: One of the tallest balloons in recent years includes the 62-foot high Diary of A Wimpy Kid. One of the longest balloons in recent years is the 72-foot wide Sinclair's DINO, and one of the widest balloons in recent years is 37-feet thick (Tie: Funko's Grogu and Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog).

28 Floats

There may have only been 28 floats per year in recent years of the parade, but each one is comprised of hundreds of different set pieces and structural elements. The floats don't drive themselves, though, as they are towed by trucks driven by members of New York City's Theatrical Teamsters union, Local 817. The drivers are even supposed to wear jackets and ties for parade duty, according to Car and Driver.

Santa parade float
93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2019. Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Want to know the biggest float in the parade? The answer is Santa's Sleigh, standing 3.5 stories tall and 60 feet long.

Fun Fact: More than a ½ mile of hand-sewn skirt and fringe wrap each float in the parade!

240 Gallons of Paint

Every balloon and float in the parade is hand-painted by members of Macy's Parade Studio team, led by head painter Beth Lucas (who's worked on more than 30 parades). The studio has "every color in the rainbow plus two," John Piper, former Vice President of the Macy's Parade Studio, told Insider in 2017.

Fun Fact: There are 75 fine art brushes and 300 additional types of brushes used in the design process.


200 Pounds of Confetti

Is a parade really considered a parade without confetti? The answer is no — which is why Macy's uses 200 pounds worth of shimmery, papery, metallic material. Whether you've lined up along the street, and it covers your hair, or you're watching from home as it flies through the air, it's a celebration staple that's sure to put a smile on everyone's face.

Fun Fact: Macy's claims to only use "commercially manufactured, multi-color confetti, not shredded paper," according to The Atlantic.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

300 Pounds of Glitter

When it comes to parade necessities, glitter is definitely up there with confetti, where 300 pounds of it is sprinkled onto costumes, floats and more so they sparkle and shine down the streets of New York.

4,500 Volunteers

The Thanksgiving Day Parade marks Macy's single biggest volunteer event of the year. More than 4,500 volunteers are credited for keeping the parade alive, from the handlers that guide the balloons along the route to the variety of themed clowns that bring the energy early in the morning.

Fun Fact: Clown volunteers have had to enroll in "Clown U," a clown school taught by the Big Apple Circus ahead of the parade!

93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

50,000+ Hours of Labor

There's a tight deadline that must be met since the annual parade falls on Thanksgiving — which means that the Parade Studio team works around the clock, 365 days a year. The team consists of approximately 27 painters, carpenters, animators, sculptors, welders, scenic/costume designers, electricians and engineers.

Macy's shared that a parade float takes approximately four months to construct — with added time for ideation and design.

50 Million+ TV Viewers

Across streaming and broadcast, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade annually draws in over 50 million viewers — making it one of the nation's largest-viewed televised events annually.

Fun Fact: NBC has been the official national broadcast partner of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1952.

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