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Go Behind the Scenes of the Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade at the Macy's Parade Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey. A team of 50 people — including costume designers, artists, sculptors and carpenters — work year-round to make the intricate floats and massive balloons that will float through the streets of Manhattan on Thanksgiving morning.

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Photo: Anders Krusberg

Behind the Merry Magic

A team of artists, sculptors, costume designers and carpenters is busy working their behind-the-scenes magic to put the finishing touches on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade up until Thanksgiving morning. Each year, the parade takes a trip from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square in Midtown. Dennis Setteducati and Andrew Boza — the Crafty Lumberjacks — spent time with four of the makers who bring the parade to life.

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Photo: Getty Images; Bettmann

98 Years, 96 Parades

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade dates back to 1924, though 2022 only marks the 96th parade. The parade had to be canceled for three straight years in the 1940s due to WWII — the materials used in the balloons (helium and rubber) were in high demand as part of the war effort. The parade returned in 1946, and not even the Covid-19 pandemic could stop it in 2020. That year, there was a scaled-down version of the parade to produce a television-only viewing experience.

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Photo: Anders Krusberg. From: HGTV Handmade.

The Room Where It Happens

The studio is actually in Moonachie, New Jersey, across the Hudson River west of Manhattan, about 12 miles from where the parade starts near 76th street and Central Park on the Upper West Side. The 70,000-square-foot facility employs about 50 people full-time.

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Photo: Anders Krusberg. From: HGTV Handmade.

Big Dreams and Tall Ceilings

“The magic that happens on the streets of New York City is built and created right here in the studio,” said Will Coss, the Macy’s Parade executive producer. The warehouse has space for balloon prep, float building, carpentry and costuming, all of which are maintained by a talented crew of artists, builders and designers.

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