The Macy's Day Parade is part of America's annual Thanksgiving Day celebrations, watched by thousands on the streets of New York and millions more on television at home.
The pageant is known for floats, costumed revelers, brass bands and huge balloons featuring popular cartoons, which travel between the city's skyscrapers on the fourth Thursday in November.
On November 23, 2023, there will be 25 balloons, 31 floats, 6 balloons, 11 bands and 18 celebrities performing in the parade, according to Macy's official website. Some of the cartoon characters range from the beloved cartoon beagle, Snoopy, to SpongeBob SquarePants and his pet snail, Gary. As in previous years, the parade will include a performance by The Radio City Rockettes and will end with an appearance from Santa Claus himself.
The world's largest competition has been held annually since 1924, when it was first presented by the famous department store chain, whose flagship store is located on 34th Street.
Here's everything we know about the history of the parade, in addition to who will be part of it this year and how to watch it.
The Macy's parade, which ended with Old Saint Nick's welcome to Herald Square, quickly overshadowed the previous Ragamuffin Day, which had seen children go door-to-door dressed as beggars to collect candy, a practice similar to Halloween trick-or-treating . .
The advent of the Great Depression, which left many in a state of real destitution, gradually led to the abolition of Ragamuffin Day altogether for reasons of good taste.
Balloons were first introduced to the Macy's line at the suggestion of Anthony Frederick Sarg, a puppet artist tasked with designing the store's seasonal window displays.
He did so using giant balloon animals custom-made by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio, which proved so popular with shoppers that they were given tours with demonstrators in 1927, replacing zoo animals.
The first popular culture character to be introduced is believed to be Felix the Cat in 1931, with the all-American Mickey Mouse bowing out by 1934.
After the US entered World War II, the parade was suspended between 1942 and 1944, but was revived for the joyous Thanksgiving Day of November 1945, and two years later was featured prominently in the film Miracle on 34th Street about a child meeting the real Father Christmas who works at the department store.
It's been running smoothly ever since, barring the occasional balloon explosion here and there, like when a gust of wind tore one off a lamppost in Times Square in 2005 and injured two bystanders.
World events mean security concerns have been front and center in recent years, with the NYPD out in force and police snipers stationed on Manhattan rooftops to monitor proceedings that could be targeted for terrorist acts.
New balloons joining the line for the 2023 edition include Beagle Scout Snoopy, Blue Cat & Chugs, Kung Fu Panda‘s Po, and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
The Rockettes will also be there, in addition to performances from other groups including The Big Apple Circus, Spirit of America and The Tap Dancing Christmas Trees. Some of the famous performers are Alex Smith, Amanda Shaw, Ashley Park, Brandy, Cher, David Foster and his wife Katharine McPhee, Jon Batiste and Jessie James Decker.
The parade will start at 8.30 am. ET and will conclude around noon on Nov. 23, Thanksgiving morning. The route runs as usual, south from West 77th Street & Central Park West on the Upper West Side to Macy's Herald Square in the Garment District.
The big show will officially air on NBC, with Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker participating in a three-hour show. It will also be broadcast live on the Peacock, with a re-recording of the event airing on NBC at 2pm on November 23.