A Year-Long Project: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Floats Come to Life

No matter how you choose to celebrate, there are three iconic elements that just about everyone experiences on Thanksgiving: turkey, football and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

📅   Wed November 22, 2017 - National Edition
Emily Buenzle


To make this kind of magic, crews must put in endless hours of work year-round.
To make this kind of magic, crews must put in endless hours of work year-round.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, there are three iconic elements that just about everyone experiences on Thanksgiving: turkey, football and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Hosted by Macy's since 1924, the awe-inspiring parade has kicked off the holiday season for generations. But to make this kind of magic, crews must put in endless hours of work year-round. Business Insider recently toured the warehouse in Moonachie, N.J. where workers build the floats, balloons and costumes that charm millions every year.

John Piper, vice president of the Macy's Parade Studio, walked Business Insider through the float-construction process.

Floats begin is ideas sketched on paper before being made into scaled models. When the models are ready, the concept is moved onto the warehouse floor, where building begins, Business Insider reported. Workers use a variety of materials, including aluminum, styrofoam and sintra, which is made of PVC. Hot wire melts its way through the materials to get the pieces just right. One major challenge is creating floats that can fold up to a width of 8.5 ft. — so they can fit through the Lincoln Tunnel as they make their way into Manhattan.

The floats can take four to nine months to finish, and in September, the crew begins working six days a week to ensure everything is complete for the big day, Business insider reported. The crew is made up of 26 full-time workers, including, “painters, sculptors, carpenters, construction workers, metal workers and more,” said Piper.