The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is most definitely an American institution. It is also most definitely a TV institution. But what you may not know is that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade shows up on TV more than on Thanksgiving. Not a lot of entire episodes have been devoted to the Thanksgiving Day parade, but you will see it pop up in reference quite a few times if you watch enough TV.
One of the most memorable occasions of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade showing up on TV occurs one of the few times that “The Simpsons” actually takes notice of Thanksgiving. Very early in the run of the series, “The Simpsons” set an episode during Thanksgiving and then they just kept rerunning it every day. The Simpsons salute to Thanksgiving covers the whole gamut: the many rituals surrounding football on Thanksgiving, the feel-good stories on local news that make hay by making you feel just bad enough for your bounty and, of course the Macy’s Parade. When Bart Simpson takes issue with older cartoon characters being represented in gigantic balloon form h observes that it would hurt them to use cartoon characters developed in the last few years. At that point, unseen by Homer and his son, a giant Bart Simpson balloon appears on the screen as part of the fictional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Miracle on 34th Street
No, not that one. TV history does play a part in “Miracle on 34th Street” and it’s got nothing to do with reruns of the Oscar-winning classic. In fact, there are two examples of why TV history plays a part in “Miracle on 34th Street.” The first time occurred in 1959 with a brand new production of the classic about a Macy’s department store Santa who is convinced he’s the real Kris Kringle. Ed Wynn took over the role of Kris from the Oscar-winning Edmund Gwenn. Fifteen years later it was Mr. French from “Family Affair” who was the Kringle. And, just in case you aren’t aware, the entire plot of “Miracle on 34th Street” kicks off with the guy who thinks he’s Kris Kringle taking over for the drunk Santa who stands to threaten everything good and decent about the parade.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade may be most well-remembered outside the actual parade event by TV viewers thanks to “Seinfeld.” The episode titled “The Mom and Pop Store” is all up in the face of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Jerry is in drama queen mode because of not getting an invitation to Tim Whatley’s Thanksgiving Day party. Big deal since it has a great view of the parade. Meanwhile, one of Elaine’s many quirky bosses, Mr. Pitt, gets the opportunity to hold onto the guidewires of one of those big balloons that makes the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade everything it should be. In this case, Mr. Pitt would be helping to guide Woody Woodpecker through downtown NYC. One of those cartoon characters Bart would consider outdated.