Stars of helium fly in NYC parade
NEW YORK – A high-kicking Kung Fu Panda and a diary-toting Wimpy Kid joined the giant balloon lineup as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade unfolded Thursday, drawing tens of thousands of spectators to the annual extravaganza on a chilly, overcast morning.
Emily Rowlinson, a tourist from London, squealed and snapped pictures with her cell phone as the massive Smurf balloon floated by a packed sidewalk along the route.
“We don’t have anything like this in England,” she exclaimed. “We have parades. We don’t have any sort of huge, floating beasts. It’s very cool.”
As millions more watched the live broadcast on television, revelers gathered nationwide for other parades in cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia. The parades headline observances across the nation that also feature football and family dinners with too much food on the table.
The Macy’s parade featured an eclectic lineup of entertainers including Kanye West, Gladys Knight and Colombian rocker Juanes. The Broadway casts of “American Idiot” and “Elf” performed, along with marching bands from across the United States.
Perched on her father’s shoulders, 16-month-old Stella Laracque wriggled and danced with excitement as SpongeBob SquarePants, Hello Kitty, Shrek and other beloved figures wafted past her.
“She doesn’t really know the characters, but she’s loving it,” said her father, Mike Laracque of Manhattan.
Another new balloon was Virginia O’Hanlon, the 8-year-old girl whose letter to the editor elicited the response, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
Santa Claus closed the parade as always. A cheer erupted as he passed by on his sleigh, shaking his enormous belly.
The Macy’s parade started in 1924 when employees from the department store marched in costume from Harlem to Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street. The parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944 because rubber and helium were needed for World War II, making Thursday’s parade the 84th.