Since it began in 1924, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has cemented itself as the quintessential way that many Americans officially ring in the holiday season. The spectacular parade features more than 10,000 performers and volunteers, and a team of Macy's employees works year-round on the balloons, floats, costumes and more to prepare for the big day. And an event this big has a big price tag to match.
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The parade's famous character balloons alone are a major expense. Helium is a finite resource, and Macy's requires 300,000 to 700,000 cubic feet of helium to fill each of its 16 balloons. In all, the company spends more than $500,000 on helium.
Macy's doesn't officially release the parade's cost, but reports estimate that the annual cost for float supplies, float decorations, property taxes and staff salaries totals between $2.7 million and $4.5 million. Along with the cost of helium, the store's special Macy's Parade Studio in New Jersey and its supply of thousands of costumes worth about $2 million, CBS estimates the price tag is about $10 million to $12 million in total.
All the hard work pays off, however, when more than 3.5 million spectators in New York City and more than 50 million television viewers nationwide tune in to see the fantastical creations, celebrity appearances, musical performances and more.
The cost of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade isn't the only fascinating fact about this holiday tradition. The parade has plenty of colorful history, having proceeded through freezing temperatures, major world crises and balloon-induced plane crashes. Check out these facts you didn't know about Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.