​Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Kicks Off Holiday Season​​

Macy’s is busy working for its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, when 50 million Americans are likely to tune in to at least part of the celebrations, which is not only a family tradition for many, but also the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season.

Asked what kind of machine can turn planks of wood into such a smooth, rounded wave shape, Studio Vice President John Piper smiles and says he’ll show studio visitors such a “machine” — and points to the worker on the ladder.

These men are among the 28 full-time studio employees who create and care for the dozens of balloons and floats that will bask in the spotlight Thursday.

These painters, carpenters, sculptors, welders and engineers bring fantastical ideas — such as a supersize Spider-Man balloon or an intricately carved Mount Rushmore-themed float — into a towering reality.

They do large-scale construction and fine-detail artistry. They camouflage the floats’ massive hinges with meticulous painting and brainstorm how to get three-story structures through the Lincoln Tunnel and up to the parade’s staging area on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

They help organize the parade components for the trip to Manhattan, get them set up for showtime and then haul everything back out again.

Beginning Wednesday afternoon and working throughout the night, these staffers — along with other Macy’s employees, temporary studio workers and volunteers — will assemble 30 large floats and inflate 16 giant balloons. They’ll get dozens of other parade elements, such as that confetti-shooting catapult, ready to go for the 9 a.m. parade start time.

Then, after it all winds its way through the 2.5-mile parade route from 77th Street along Central Park West and down 6th Avenue to Macy’s Herald Square at 34th Street and 7th Avenue, they deflate, disassemble, repack and bring everything back to New Jersey.

The studio workers return to their families just about the time most Americans are digesting their second helping of pumpkin pie.

“We go home and collapse,” says design studio director Jerry Ospa.

As the clock ticks down, the pressure ratchets up. The parade is a high-profile event for Macy’s and the organizations that sponsor balloons and floats.