Ahh, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade… This annual takeover of Midtown Manhattan is a holiday tradition on par with roasted turkey and drinking just a little too much. Though this parade is a celebrated part of Thanksgiving and an enjoyable watch, there is no denying that the concept is a little bit bizarre. The parade, though fun, doesn’t boil down to much more than a three-hour-long advertisement for various Broadway shows, major corporations, and NBC’s Today Show.
And what advertisement would be complete without a parade float? While parade staples such as Tom Turkey and Santa Claus have been a part of the Thanksgiving Day Parade since day one, other floats come and go throughout the years. And, in the last decade, they’ve gotten even more elaborate as companies compete to grab your attention.
We combed through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade archives to bring you five of the most over-the-top floats from the past 10 years. And get ready, because these can get a little bit crazy.
Cirque du Soleil's Dreamseeker, 2013
Nothing screams over-the-top quite like Cirque du Soleil, who brought their trippy high-wire act to the Thanksgiving Day Parade beginning in 2013. A pirate ship and its large mast and tall nets allowed for the limber cast to flip and twirl their way down the streets of New York, which is both exciting and totally horrifying to watch.
Delta Airlines Winter Wonderland in Central Park, 2008
Though the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place in the heart of fall, it’s oftentimes more of a celebration of winter and Christmas than it is of autumn harvests. The Winter Wonderland in Central Park float epitomized this. As this float rolled down Broadway, it featured live ice skaters beneath a faux bridge, turning this mild activity into a high-risk one.
KFC the Colonel's Trip to NYC, 2015
Kentucky Fried Chicken’s ad campaigns are already outrageous, and the fast-food chain brought that energy to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade last year by taking the Colonel to the streets of New York — literally and figuratively. Featuring a classic Cadillac crashed into the Big Apple, this chaotic float featured more red, white, and blue than you can even imagine.
The girl-centered toy company Goldieblox probably meant to inspire children with its girl powered spinning machine; featuring bikes, gears, and pop star Meghan Trainor singing her sassy hit “Lips Are Movin’” in 2014. What they delivered was a dizzying explosion of rainbow colors, gears, and bubbles that you want to, but cannot, look away from.
Sprout Daytime, Play Time, Night Time Too, 2012
Children’s programming often transports you into a hallucinogenic, colorful world. Neither the preschool-centered channel Sprout nor its Thanksgiving Day Parade float is an exception to this. Featuring plenty of moving parts, dancing costumed characters, and (sometimes) a chicken DJing a farm hoedown, this float was as confusing as it was pure fun.