NEW YORK—From the lovable characters in “Despicable Me” to the flying acrobats of Cirque du Soleil, this year’s Macy’s Parade has some exciting new additions. A week before the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Macy’s offered a sneak peek at its new floats.
Five new floats will join the parade in 2013. They include the Despicably Delicious float, featuring characters from 3-D comedy film “Despicable Me.” A giant chocolatier with his dancing puppets will ride atop a float by Lindt Chocolate.
Shamu, a giant 27-foot whale, will breach amid swaying kelp and brightly colored fish atop the SeaWorld float. Meanwhile, a World at Sea, a float by Royal Caribbean International, has a carousel, which shows scenes that can be experienced on a cruise.
The Dreamseeker, a flying ship by Cirque du Soleil, is perhaps the largest most exciting of the new floats, complete with trampolines, Chinese poles, and acrobats.
The preview also revealed the work that goes on behind the scenes to create the balloons and floats. John Piper, vice president of Macy’s Parade Studio said that an array of professionals worked for more than a year for the Thanksgiving extravaganza.
“I have the best team of artists, craftspeople, and artisans in the world. We have carpenters, metal workers, sculptors, painters, illustrators, and designers,” said Piper.
There will be 30 floats in this year’s parade, the most ever. While the new floats are on display, the classics are packed up in preparation for the parade. All of the floats will travel through the Lincoln Tunnel to the Upper West Side the night before the parade. They are escorted by the New York, New Jersey, and Port Authority Police.
“Even though as you see these floats are two and a half, three stories tall, and are wide as three buses put together, they all have to collapse, come apart, disassemble, so they’re no more than 8 and half feet wide, no more than 12 and a half feet tall, they literally can go through the toll booth to go through the tunnel,” Piper explained.
Preparation for this year’s parade began before last year’s parade took place. The massive project all begins in the studio, where the floats and balloons are designed and eventually constructed.
“We never stop working on the parade, we’re always constantly working on it, constantly looking toward the next parade, building new things, new adventures and a lot of fun stuff,” said Piper. “We’re already working on 2014, but today we’re thinking about 2013 and all the great floats that we have here today.”
Yi Yang is a special correspondent in New York.