Here’s the wonderful 2002 poster by illustrator Rick Lovell for one of our best Thanksgiving traditions. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off the holiday season (according to Macy’s, at least) with the best Santa Claus around. Macy’s has a lot to live up to if only because of Edmund Gwenn’s Oscar-winning turn as Macy’s Kris Kringle in the classic film Miracle on 34th Street (1947), the parade portions of which were filmed at the previous year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The giant balloons are the highlight of the parade, which are a visual feast for lovers of comics and animation. Pictured here are some of my favorites.
As always (since 1955, anyhow), NBC had the official coverage leaving CBS to catch the parade as it just happens to pass their broadcast facility. The best thing to happen to CBS’s unimpressive coverage in years is Neil Patrick Harris. The Emmy-nominated breakout star of the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother provided color commentary along the parade route. In 2006 Neil proved his mettle by working the crowds, adlibbing brilliantly (interviewing a dog, for example) when very little was going down (except rain), all in the pouring rain. Mr. Harris single handedly rescued that rainy day and CBS’s damp (and limp) coverage. No surprise—ever since he played teenage surgeon Doogie Howser we knew he was a cut-up. (Hah! Comedy!) This year Neil again came through in much better weather, with sly humor combined with a sense of the absurd, as well as a genuine appreciation of the parade. Neil’s dry humor was at times somewhat risqué but he managed to keep it all family-friendly by keeping it between the lines. I’m sure CBS has already signed him up for next Thanksgiving. Neil Patrick Harris is really the only thing keeping the so-called CBS Thanksgiving Day Parade from being a turkey.