The Nacireman looks at how Macy's can keep up with the times with its annual Thanksgiving Parade, without looking like it's trying too hard.
Macy's celebrated the 85th annual procession of its annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. Some traditions seem to get better with age (like the Tournament of Roses Parade), while others can show how out of step with the times they are. The Macy's Parade is somewhere in the middle, but has been going in the latter direction for years.
Staying relevant with the times is a harder than obvious task for an institution like the Macy's Parade. It means many different things to many different people. Families see it as a an annual tradition to gather around and watch the processions. Companies see it as a vehicle to hawk their products, services, media projects,etc. Trying to bring a balance between the two can be no easy task for Macy's to pull each year.
Still, in recent years, the parade seems to be showing a little of its age. It doesn't seem like the kind of creativity of parades of old is showing as much as it did. This may be due to the fact that HD television reveals the little flaws that regular television can hide. Floats and balloons show the wear and tear of years of use.
Then there are the musical and entertainment acts that are sprinkled throughout the parade broadcast. Along with the obligatory bands, the "official" NBC broadcast features all kinds of musical act and dance groups. Some of them can seem quite awkward at times. Take for example this year performance by the 610 Stompers, which seemed too much of an ironic and out of place act for the parade. Add to this the fact that some of the Broadway performances shown during the first hour of the NBC broadcast aren't exactly child-appropriate. I'm talking about the performance by the cast of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert here. It just seemed a little too risque for an all-ages event. It's as though Macy's is trying to stay relevant, but fails when it comes to keeping things appropriate for all ages.
That being said, here are some ways for fix some of the nagging problems that are keeping the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from being what it used to be.
1)Sprucing up the floats.
This is the parade's biggest problem. The current group of floats look way too plastic in their construction. Compared to Tournament of Roses floats, they look bland and uninspiring. This is especially true in the era of HD television. For the most part, Macy's seems to have foregone creativity in order for the floats to mainly be used for moving stages for the musical performances. There's been an improvement in recent years, but the floats still seem a little dull.
One area where the floats are truly lacking is in the animation area. Compared to the Rose Parade, where floats feature rather complex anamatronics, the Macy's floats look painfully archaic. The Macy's Parade needs to look and feel a little more magical as it makes it way toward Herald Square. Improved floats would help that out.
2) No more lip-syncing.
If you saw today's NBC broadcast, you might have seen American Idol winner Scotty McCreery's career end before it even began as he missed his cue and didn't begin lip-syncing when he was supposed to. If having these acts perform live during the parade is such an issue, then just don't have the music acts in the parade. Trust me, they wouldn't be missed for the most part.
3)Stay classy, Macy's.
I hate to go Jay-Z and offend all my political connects out there, but there were some acts this year that really felt out of place in a Thanksgiving Parade designed to be family entertainment. I'm talking about the aforementioned 610 Stompers here. The whole performance felt way out of place for an event aimed at all ages. That and it was just dumb.
There are ways Macys can keep the Parade in sync with current trends, while maintaining a sense of high quality and low cheesieness. Getting some of the crews from America's Best Dance Crew would be a perfect idea for the parade. An crew like Jabbawockeez or Iconic Boyz or I aM mE are amazing perfromers who appeal to different ages.
4)Not every character deserves a balloon.
Back in the day, seeing a character immortalized as a Macy's Parade balloon was a definite sign that the character had truly made it. Lately, however, it seems that like everything, new parade balloons were handed out to the highest bidder. Characters from somewhat obscure TV shows, or worse yet, characters from advertising campaigns, seem to have gotten the balloon treatment while other great characters haven't. How cool would have it been if there was a Harry Potter balloon in the parade (before Harry Potter was all over the place, that is). Or an Artoo Detoo balloon (I've wanted to see that for most of my life). Meanwhile, somewhat more obscure characters like Julius the Monkey and Little Bill show up in the parade more and more.
5)Keep boomers in mind.
Macy's habit of adding "retro" balloons like Herald the Fireman, while fun, tend to skew toward the pre-baby boomer crowd. It would be real cool if Macy's would bring back a balloon from the 60's or 70's like The Happy Dragon or the Dinosaur, which would appeal to the boomers.
6)Trash Santa's current sleigh.
Sorry, the sleigh Santa has been seen in at the end of the parade just looks awful. It looks more like a yard decoration than a parade float. The Snow Goose sleigh was a classic and should never have been done away with. All it needed was a little sprucing up.
Watching the Macy's Parade is a Thankgiving tradition for my self and millions of others. Macy's shouldn't take that for granted. Making sure it looks ready for HDTV and doesn't look too cheesy is something Macy's should try for every year.
Written or Contributed by: The Nacireman