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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2023: Who makes the floats? How much do they cost?

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York is one of the most widely watched parades in the US because of its elaborate balloons and floats.

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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a tradition since 1924, with only a few interruptions during its long history, such as during World War II. It has evolved over the years to become a major event that signals the beginning of the holiday season for many people in the US.

One of the highlights of the parade is the giant character balloons that float above the streets of Manhattan. These balloons often depict popular cartoon characters, superheroes, and other pop culture figures. Each balloon is filled with helium and guided by a team of handlers.

Elaborately decorated floats also make their way through the parade route, featuring various themes and promoting entertainment and holiday cheer.

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The grand finale of the parade traditionally involves the arrival of Santa Claus on his sleigh, his appearance marking the official start of the Christmas season.

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Creating balloons takes considerable effort

These festive floats and bright balloons take a lot of effort to construct, and come with a considerable price tag too. They are made by the Macy’s Parade design and construction team. According to Tomorrow’s World Today, the balloons are painted by hand and not printed on pieces of material.

Those giant balloons, which could be as high as five or six stories tall, require 80 to 100 handlers each on parade day.

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The parade’s surprising costs

According to personal finance website GOBankingRates, the balloons need 300,000 to 700,000 cubic feet of helium to inflate fully, and the cost to blow each one up amounts to at least half a million dollars each.

If a company wishes to sponsor a new balloon, it needs to pay a $190,000 construction and parade fee on top of the helium cost.

The price to have a balloon in the parade goes down to $90,000 for repeat sponsors, since there’s no need to build a new one.

Parade floats cost between $30,000 to $100,000, and take four to nine months from conceptualization to assembly.