For more than 90 years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been an American holiday tradition. The procession steps off down Central Park West from 77th Street, traveling east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue and then south along Sixth Avenue to West 34th Street, ending in front of Macy’s in Herald Square. In addition, a Thanksgiving eve tradition is the balloon inflation along the perimeter of the American Museum of Natural History.
More than 3.5 million people are expected to fill the streets of New York City, and more than 50 million people at home will watch the parade of celebrities, clowns, marching bands and the stars of the show – the floating balloons of characters from comic books and children’s movies such as Spider-Man, Kung Fu Panda, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pokémon.
And this year, soon after the balloons complete their Thanksgiving stroll through the city that never sleeps, some of them will be packed up to take part in a one-of-a-kind parade in Jerusalem on Chanukah. “Together – Walking with World Jewry” is the name chosen for the parade, which will feature street orchestras, youth movements, giant displays from festival artists, a convoy of classic cars, players from the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team, and more.
The parade in Jerusalem is an initiative of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry and is meant to bring Jews in Israel and abroad together in the wake of recent anti-Semitic incidents around the world, culminating in the recent Pittsburgh synagogue massacre that claimed the lives of 11 people. The ministry is looking into bringing a delegation from the Pittsburgh Jewish community to the Jerusalem parade.
The celebration is expected to entice a variety of international Jewish groups to host the parade. In a statement, organizers said the event is designed to be “a demonstration of unity between Diaspora Jewry and the citizens of Israel,” amid the backdrop of “severe manifestations of anti-Semitism around the world.”
The procession is slated to begin at the Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem and continue down King David Street toward Sultan’s Pool, where a concluding concert will take place. The Jewish-American rapper Matisyahu, who will perform there, has a long relationship with Israel and with the city of Jerusalem. Several years ago, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists attempted to have his show in Spain cancelled. He ended up performing in front of a crowd carrying Palestinian flags, and sang “Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim” (“If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem”), a Jewish liturgical poem.
Initially, on Nov. 18, the Diaspora Affairs Ministry reported that the executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be accompanying the balloons to Jerusalem to oversee the parade in the capital.
On Monday, Macy’s told The Jerusalem Post that instead of its parade executive producer traveling to Jerusalem, one of its “producers will come to Israel to be on hand for the parade. The balloons are from an external supplier.”
Organizers confirmed Monday that a representative for the parade walked back the release it sent to media, saying instead that the event will be “in the spirit of Macy’s.”
The parade is expected to be one of the biggest and most impressive events that the capital has known, with the Thanksgiving Day balloons flying from the Big Apple to the apple of G-d’s eye.
Compiled by AJT Staff. Sources: The Jerusalem Post and Macys.com