When did Chengdu, China, start sending floats to the New York City Thanksgiving Day parade!

This year’s was a stunning production, with people dressed in the costumes of the traditional Chinese opera and even a couple of pandas.

chungdu-float-and-charactersIn just one hour of the 3-hour pageant, I saw a marching band from Texas playing “deep in the heart of….,” a terrific 1920s-style dance troupe, a giant pirate ship, performers from Hawaii in grass skirts and lees, stilt walkers talking to kids watching from the sidewalks, and many, many clowns.

If you and your kids are planning to visit New York at this time, you have to see this.

And very interesting at this political moment, I discovered that the parade was started in 1924 by European immigrants.

Many workers at the Macy’s department store were first-generation Americans. They loved the country that gave their families opportunity and wanted to celebrate this American holiday with a European-style festival of the sort their parents had enjoyed. Macy’s has sponsored this for 90 years. So, thank you immigrants for a great American tradition!

the-balloonsMy parents were the children of immigrants, and I remember going to the parade as a kid decades ago and loving the huge cartoon balloons that floated overhead.

But since then, this New York City tradition has grown to have a national and international flavor.

It’s a celebration of America.

hawaii-and-south-dakotaOf the states. Here is Hawaii (notice the bundled up folks at the top!) and South Dakota, famous for the sculptures of four presidents carved into a granite mountain. The folks walking along side are forest rangers who take care of natural spaces and fisherfolks holding rods.

bandsThere were many marching bands. Here’s one with flag twirlers from Texas and another from West Point.

stilt-walker-talking-to-kidsThe clowns and stilt walkers interacted with the kids along the walk. They talked to them and schmoozed with them and threw confetti.

clowns-as-artists-and-cowboys-cowgirlsThere were many many clowns. Here are some “artists” carrying buckets of paint and sauntering “cowboys and cowgirls.”

dancers-20s-and-texas-rangerettesAmong my favorites — this was for the adults – were some 1920s dancers who broke out in a lively jitterbug. And then the high-stepping Texas Rangerettes.

queen-of-hearts-joker-and-a-pirate-shipLots of fairy tales, the Queen of Hearts and a pirate ship.



nyc-symbols-and-nypdCan’t forget New York. Here is the Statue of Liberty (the big apple is in the background) and other icons from the city, including the yellow taxi. Next to that the NYC police band and float.

girl-scouts-olympians-and-paraolympiansBack to the sense of idealism that started it all. Here are the girl scouts and Olympian and Paralympian athletes floats.

mother-goose-talking-to-kidsThe event starts at Central Park West and 77th Street at 9 am, goes south to Columbus Circle to 59th St, then east to 6th Ave, and down to 34th Street, then west to 7th Avenue finishing at 12 noon.

I got to 42nd Street just after 10 am and stayed for an hour till I was chilled enough! Floats were still coming though.

The sidewalks are not so crowded that kids can’t see. And a good place is the higher level at Bryant Park the east side of 6th Avenue from 40th to 42nd Streets. Though then they might not get the chance to talk to Mother Goose, who engaged the children by reciting the first lines of nursery rhymes and asking them to finish them.

Photos by Lucy Komisar.

Visit Lucy’s website The Komisar Scoop.