Point/Otherpoint: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

by Scott Lydon & Jason Hinklin Lauderdale

Presenting the second in a series of probing debates on the least controversial issues of our time. For this installment of Point/Otherpoint, Jason Hinklin-Lauderdale and Scott Lydon come to verbal blows over a beloved Thanksgiving tradition. No, not canned cranberry sauce. That debate was settled long ago: it's gross.

Macy's? Why Don't You Just Mace Me? by Scott Lydon

Now, let’s be fair, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has a long and grand tradition, and we respect that. Its worth keeping in mind that, back in the mid-twenties, giant balloons were truly cutting-edge technology. Considering that, it’s obvious that the Macy’s parade of old was sort of like CES today: a chance for the common people to marvel at the toys only available to the ultra rich and stare at a fat guy with a long, unkempt beard.

But today, with a Santa in every store and the Internet in every home, the joy of walking right behind eight tiny pooping reindeer for about forty city blocks sort of loses its charm. Sure, it’s a great way to help poorly known soap opera actors pad out their resumes, but so are Roger Corman movies, and they don’t show those all morning long. Hey, as long as we brought it up, why can’t we start a new tradition with a Death Race 2000 Thanksgiving Special? Some guy dressed as Spider-Man driving a red and blue car into a Garfield-shaped van would really get people ready for an afternoon of football, don’t you think? Fox Sports, where you at on this one, huh?

Naturally, anyone can understand why the Macy’s Parade was so loved by the simple people of the Greatest Generation and their hard-earned families, but today, most of those people can’t even understand what the words “media player” mean. In this 21st Century world, the Macy’s parade exists for one reason only: to give the people who aren’t cooking something they can pretend to be watching when they run out of things to talk about. It’s time to admit that this tourist trap, although an excellent way to irritate lifelong New Yorkers, has overstayed its welcome.

I Love A Parade by Jason Hinklin-Lauderdale

There is only one parade in the whole world that has the ability to bring an Internet meme to life and embarrass an entire country, and that parade is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. A time-honored tradition used to keep kids out of the kitchen while Mom slaves away at another meal that Grandpa will be disappointed with, it marks the official start of the Holidays, even if the department stores have had decorations and trees available since Halloween.

THRILL AT THE HIGH SCHOOL BANDS! There may be some debate as to which parade is the Big Dance for band nerds, Macy’s or the Rose Bowl, but Macy’s is the one that’s going to make Mom and Dad the proudest. Year after, they’ll still be showing the minute and a half clip of their son or daughter drumming along to the theme from Rocky just before it’s cut off by Alfonso Ribeiro singing "Silver Bells" at every Thanksgiving dinner.

MARVEL AT THE GIANT BALLOONS! Great was the man that watched those first few parades in the 1920’s and said, “Yeah, it’s nice and all, but you know what this thing really needs? Giant freakin’ balloons.” Since Felix The Cat made his grand debut in 1927, great leaps in balloon technology have given us bigger and better aerial wonders, capable of awesome feats of destruction should they get away from their handlers. And let’s be honest, we’re all secretly hoping one gets away, aren’t we? It’s like watching NASCAR. You don’t really WANT an accident to happen, per se, but, boy, it sure is exciting when one does.

SANTA CHRISTMAS-LOVIN’ CLAUS! While you may have already seen the fake Ho-Ho-Ho’s in your malls already, this is the only parade with the “official” Santa Claus, marking the beginning of Nice Season. The Great Red Giftgiver is officially on the job as of the final moment of the parade. The Naughty List has begun, Santa’s spooky network of spies and operatives will be activated immediately, and every child in the world is ON NOTICE. That’s right, kids. You might have gotten away with a few things months previous, but it’s time to straighten up and help Mom with the dishes after dinner or face the awful punishment of coal. It is both a whimsical ending and a frightening reminder to children everywhere.

In the end, beyond the floats, the balloons, and the lip-synched Broadway hits and Christmas favorites, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade still stands today as a powerful reminder of our heritage as Americans, a heritage built on high-concept marketing and capitalism. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Photo: Ronald McDonald balloon by Flickr user Ben+Sam, used under a Creative Commons License.