Eye-Opening Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Macy’s Famous Thanksgiving Day Parade

The smell of turkey roasting in the oven, the sight of stuffing bubbling on the stovetop, and the sounds of New York City marching bands coming from the TV. Nothing says "Thanksgiving" more than Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! Yes, sir, Macy's knows how to throw a celebration, for sure. But how much do you really know about one of the greatest spectacles of each year? Well, here are some behind-the-scenes facts for you to gobble down along with your turkey!

You need to hit a certain weight to hold those balloons

To volunteer to hold one of the balloons in the parade, each balloon handler has to be in good shape and weigh at least 120 pounds. Those balloons, after all, contain about 12,000 cubic feet of helium. That's heavy! There's a reason each balloon has about 90 people guiding them along the 2.5-mile-long parade route.

Not everybody is a fan

In 1926 the Allied Patriotic Societies actually protested against Macy's for holding the event on Thanksgiving and interfering with Thanksgiving Day worship. The group threatened to go to the police and have Macy's permit revoked if they didn't make changes. A Macy's representative argued that the parade would be over in plenty of time to allow people to get to church. The parade went ahead as scheduled.

Disney debuted in the 1930s

Mickey Mouse made his parade debut in 1934. Walt Disney collaborated with Macy's to design the 40-foot-by-23-foot balloon. To stay grounded, Mickey needed to be handled by 25 balloon attendants throughout the procession. There have been seven versions of Mickey Mouse balloons at the parade in total — as well as countless other Disney characters.

It takes a lot of planning

Flying massive balloons takes a lot more coordination and responsibility than you might think. Each balloon has its own pilot and captain, who is trained by Macy's. They walk backward for the duration of the parade as they direct the crew of volunteers holding the guide ropes. The guide handles are called "bones," by the way.