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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Where Tradition and Pop Culture Meet

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Along with the obligatory mashed potatoes and stuffing, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an intrinsic part of many Thanksgiving celebrations across the country. In the shadow of huge balloons and smaller ones (called "ballonicles" in parade parlance) will be the traditional holiday floats, standout high school marching bands and the baton-twirling, face-painted fare that kick off the holiday season.

In its 84th year, the parade continues to mix traditional characters with kid-pleasers for the generation raised on Pixar and YouTube as opposed to Merry Melodies. Arriving this year to the big balloon party that includes regulars like Mickey Mouse and Snoopy are two new balloons: "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and "Kung Fu Panda."

Artist Takashi Murakami, whose bright, pop-infused characters have made their way recently to Versailles, worked with the parade over several months to create balloonicles of his characters Kaikai and Kiki. Murakami Spokesman Brad Plumb says that the balloons are not the only thing the artist has planned for the parade: "Let's just say he'll be pretty hard to miss."

What's your favorite part of the parade? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Plus, check out a slideshow of balloons that will be in the parade coming to life.

Linda Volkomer is a fenching coach at the Stephen's Institute. She's been volunteering to inflate the balloons for the last 24 years.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
Linda Volkomer is a fenching coach at the Stephen's Institute. She's been volunteering to inflate the balloons for the last 24 years.
Volunteers work to inflate the parade baloons. Kermit require 11,000 cubic feet of helium to get him afloat.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
Volunteers work to inflate the parade baloons. Kermit require 11,000 cubic feet of helium to get him afloat.
Before inflating the baloons, workers cover them with giant wieghted  nets to prevent them from flying away.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
Before inflating the baloons, workers cover them with giant wieghted nets to prevent them from flying away.
Families came out in droves to watch workers inflate the baloons.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
Families came out in droves to watch workers inflate the baloons.
Workers and volunteers adjust the nets on a parade baloon.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
Workers and volunteers adjust the nets on a parade baloon.
Shrek, all tied up.
Photo by Marlon BIshop
Shrek, all tied up.
A balloon comes dangerously close to bumping its nose on the street.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
A balloon comes dangerously close to bumping its nose on the street.
Technician Jim Ortle has worked with the Macy's Parade for 30 years.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
Technician Jim Ortle has worked with the Macy's Parade for 30 years.
The Kool Aid Man is a balloonicle, a Macy's invention than combines a baloon with a vehicle.
Photo by Marlon Bishop
The Kool Aid Man is a balloonicle, a Macy's invention than combines a baloon with a vehicle.

A production sketch by Murakami.

Artwork ©2010 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Murakami and Macy's designer John Piper inspects the balloon maquette at Kaikai Kiki's Miyoshi studio in Saitama, Japan.

"Kaikai" and "Kiki" characters ©2000 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The clay molds used to create balloons in the shape of artist Takashi Murakami's Kaikai and Kiki balloonicles.

"Kaikai" and "Kiki" characters ©2000 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments [3]

Lorraine Norton

THE BATON TWIRLERS

Nov. 26 2010 11:16 PM
Louis from connecticut

Sailor Mickey, WW1 ace snoopy and Kylie made a great day of memories. But please don't go running around to bodega's looking for supplies, stay home with loved ones

Nov. 25 2010 05:16 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, heldentenor & opera composer from www.WagnerOpera.com

I AM THANKFUL FOR LIVING AT A TIME WHEN IT WAS POSSIBLE TO STUDY WITH THE GREATEST !!! What we do not hear today--witness the just concluded spectacular telecasting of the Macy's Day Parade, pharyngeal singing with "squillo." To hear what I have mentioned, visit my website www.WagnerOpera.com.

My vocal training with "Met" Opera legends: Friedrich Schorr, perhaps the
greatest Wagnerian baritone, his Hans Sachs and "Ring" operas' Wotan
considered without peer; Frieda Hempel, the "Met" Opera coloratura who partnered
Caruso in Buenos Aires as well as the "Met" and Covent Garden and premiered the
Met's "L'Elisir" with Caruso on December 30th, 1916 and was the first
Berlin and "Met" Marschallin, a role usually given to dramatic sopranos;
Maregarete Matzenauer, "Met" Opera singer partnering Caruso as Delilah, Amneris and
Fides, and singing both the mezzo and dramatic sopranos in the Wagner
oeuvre, Brunnhilde, Brangaene, Isolde, Kundry, and many others, singing in 5
languages: Russian, German, French, Italian and English; Karin Branzell, "Met"
Opera mezzo who succeeded Matzenauer as mezzo, singing all the Wagner operas
opposite Melchior; Alexander Kipnis, "Met" Opera basso famous for his Wagner,
Verdi, Mozart and Moussorgsky roles and his performance in the Hugo Wolf
and Brahms "rep"; John Brownlee, "Met" Opera baritone in the Puccini, Wagner
and Humperdinck roles; Enrico Rosati , teacher of Gigli, Lauri-Volpi,
Melchior and Lanza ; and GennaroBarra Caracciolo, a student himself with Giovanni
Martinelli, with Mandolini in Italy, the head voice teacher at La Scala with
students Enrico Campi, Vladimir Atlantov, Gino Penno and Gianni Raimondi.

They ALL had different approaches technically but from each I took what
worked best for me.

We all must sing with our OWN voice with a technique that provides us with
control of our voice at all levels of dynamics, vocal range, flexibility
and
stamina and precise articulation of the words and precise pitch, with ease.

Kenneth Bennett Lane
Wagnerian heldentenor
Director, Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, where all the Wagner AND
Shakespeare roles are taught
Website: www. WagnerOpera.com, where at "Recorded Selections" one can
download 37
complete selections, "Carnegie Hall LIVE" from my 3 solo and one Joint
Recital, with a dramatic soprano, concerts in Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern
Auditorium. complete selections from my 3 solo and one Joint Recital. The
dramatic soprano was Norma Jean Erdmann, whose uncle was Dr. John Erdmann, head
surgeon of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, who SAVED CARUSO'S
life, operating on him at his residence , an apartment house on Park
Avenue, a few blocks south of Grand Central Station. Caruso had pleurisy.
Thick, foul smelling fluids exploded from his chest cavity when Dr.
Erdmann and his team of surgeons and nurses opened up his chest to relieve his
screaming in pain.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE !!!

Nov. 25 2010 12:16 PM

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