with the float: Thanksgiving on parade
Holiday tradition hovers high above others
Lansing State Journal
Bobbin' along: SpongeBob SquarePants is one of
the new additions to this year's Macy's Thanksgiving
Day Parade in New York.
is the week for helium and hype, for floats and flair,
for bands making music and singers
time for a Thanksgiving Day parade. There are choices.
can catch a parade in person in Detroit. Expect temperatures
in the mid-30s, with a chance of snow showers.
they can catch one on TV at home. Expect temperatures
in the 60s or 70s, with a chance of egg nog and cranberries.
way, this is part of a tradition. People involved with
the Macy's parade in New York (telecast on NBC and CBS)
can tell about that. Just ask:
Al Roker, one of the NBC commentators. He grew up in
New York and has known the parade for most of his 50
years. "It's a sense of community," Roker
said, "a sense of belonging to something big."
Robert Grippo, who wrote the book (literally) on the
parade. He's from Long Island and has known the parade
for most of his 47 years. "Everyone just brightens
up," he said. "It's warm; it's holiday."
Curtis Cregan, who's about to be in his first parade.
"I really don't know much about parades,"
27, grew up in Okemos and now stars in an American kids'
TV show ("Hi-5") taped in Australia. Sometime
on Thanksgiving morning, he and his four castmates will
have 90 seconds of NBC air time, singing and dancing.
hard part is doing it all on a 10-by-7 (foot) surface,"
the plan for the Macy's event. NBC promises four Broadway
shows, two opera stars (Andrea Bocelli and Deborah Voight)
and such pop people as Fantasia Barrino, Barenaked Ladies,
Gavin DeGraw, Peter Cetera, Hayley Westenra, Ryan Cabrera
and Jose Feliciano.
a parade, but it's also an entertainment special,"
said Grippo, author of "Macy's Thanksgiving Day
Parade" (Arcadia, 2004, $21.99).
catch is that these singers lip-sync to pre-recorded
tracks."It's not like Ashlee Simpson," Roker
said. "They're not trying to hide it."
is the pop singer whose lip-syncing self-destructed
on "Saturday Night Live." As it happens, she'll
be at the Detroit parade.)
says one star - he won't say who - did try to sing live
at the parade, while hearing the music track in his
ear. It was a disaster.
people stick to lip-syncing, he said. "Some are
more adept at it than others."
(see story above) is optimistic about that. Throughout
the parade, he said, Hi-5 will alternate between four
tunes. Parade-goers will hear recorded songs, but the
performers will sing along. "That should make it
Macy's parade has always been a hybrid, Grippo said.
the old days, many department stores sponsored parades
to launch the Christmas season. Macy's started its parade
in 1924; the event is 80 years old, but this is only
the 78th parade, because of a wartime break.
a few of those parades - including Detroit's, once sponsored
by the Hudson's department store - have survived. Macy's
has prospered, possibly because:
New York always gets the spotlight. Even in the 1930s,
the Macy's parade included such stars as Harpo Marx
and Eddie Cantor.
The movie "Miracle on 34th Street" focused
on the Macy's parade Santa. The 1947 film is a classic,
remade in 1973 and '94.
Macy's had some innovators.
Sarg was an immigrant and an amazing talent," Grippo
said. "He actually did puppet shows at Carnegie
Hall. He decided that you could turn a puppet upside
down and you have a balloon."
inflatables became one of the drawing points of the
parades. This year, the Detroit parade is adding an
"I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee" inflatable;
returning ones include Elmo, Clownie and The Nutcracker.
ones for the Macy's parade this year include SpongeBob
Square Pants, plus Chicken Little, the Weebles and the
red and yellow M&M's. They join Super Grover, Charlie
Brown, Barney, Pikachu and Clifford the Big Red Dog.
defy anyone to not be in awe of those giant balloons,"
Roker said. "It takes 60-70 people to hold onto
are volunteers. Alongside all the hype and hucksters,
the parade has masses of people working free to hoist
balloons and more. "It's such a rush of excitement,"
said Grippo, going into his fourth year as a volunteer
there are the high school bands in the Macy's parade.
tend to be cynical," Roker said. "But often,
these are people who have never been on a plane before;
they've never been to New York. They always impress
understands that. He travels a lot and remembers pausing
to see a small-town parade. "What I watched were
the reactions of the people on the side. They were so
he'll be in the parade, performing for the masses. The
scale will be bigger, but Roker said the feeling will
be the same. "New York is a collection of small
parade day, Grippo said, all of those forces converge.
"On that one day, everyone is a New Yorker."