The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is as much of a centerpiece in my life as turkey on this holiday. Kicking off its 91st year, it’s hardly a surprise most of us feel the same. Starting in 1924, but televised on NBC since 1952, the three-hour long event is watched by over 3.5 million people. I had the pleasure of attending the parade in 1993. I got there with a group of friends at about 4 in the morning. It was freezing cold, yet the energy of being on the corner of 34th Street and Seventh Avenue way amazing.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
That year I remember seeing Michael Damian who was starring in Joseph and the Technicolor Color Dream Coat perform. I remember filling up on hot chocolate and having a slice of New York Pizza. Looking back, I still can’t get over how the massive balloons that the parade is known for being such a spectacular sight to see in person. When the day was done I got back to my small apartment 2 hours south of the city in the little town of Kingston, Pennsylvania. I called my mom, who was at my aunt and uncle’s home that we spent most of my Thanksgivings growing up.
“Being away from home it was nice to have something familiar on that day.”
There weren’t cell phones back then, so it was close to dinner time when I finally got to talk to everyone. It was my first Thanksgiving away from home, the first time I wasn’t with anyone from my family. I believe I had a can of soup for dinner.My mother’s voice was distant and almost sad as she mentioned how much she missed me being there. But I remember distinctly the conversation turning to my experience of attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and how even being away from home it was nice to have something familiar on that day. And the fact I got to experience in person made for it a very special memory.
So now I am here, 24 years later making Thanksgiving Day plans with my family. I have passed the tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade down to my daughters. For us, it’s the beginning of the holiday season. Before the turkey, the craziness of Black Friday and the Christmas parties is this parade. If you haven’t watched before, I encourage you to take the time to this Thanksgiving to sit down and enjoy the tradition of such a special event.
What else can you expect besides the signature big balloons? There will be more than 1,500 dancers and cheerleaders, close to 1,000 clowns, almost 30 parade floats, a dozen marching bands, and nearly 8,000 participants in all. Check out the line up I grabbed from macys.com.
It’s clear Stefani has established herself as one the most influential pop stars over the last three decades. The Cali native, who has also appeared as a coach on TV music reality-competition The Voice, released her first holiday album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, in October. The set includes the title song, an uptempo duet with fellow Voice coach (and boyfriend) Blake Shelton.
98 Degrees–the R&B group formed by Jeff Timmons, Justin Jeffre and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey–are known as one of pop music’s most prolific boy bands. From 1997 to 2002, they sold 10 million records, scored a chart-topping single, “Thank God I Found You,” with Mariah Carey and Joe and recorded many other radio hits. In 2017, the quartet has released a new Christmas album, Let It Snow.
Sara Evans is one of country’s most accomplished singers. With five No. 1 singles, and selling millions of records, winning the Academy of Country Music’s Top Female Vocalist Award plus a Country Music Association trophy for her signature song, “Born To Fly.” With the release of her eighth studio album, Words–the first project on Evans’ own Born To Fly Records label–it’s clear that she’s in total control of her already celebrated career.
ckkckabilly head scarf tied tight and voice booming bright, Andra Day is an R&B powerhouse perhaps best known for her platinum-selling anthem “Rise Up.” Closing out 2017, the Grammy-nominated singer released the moving tune “Stand Up For Something” feat. Common. The song appears on the soundtrack to Marshall, a biopic about Thurgood Marshall, the country’s first African-American Supreme Court justice, in which Day also makes her film debut.
Singer-songwriter Cam has emerged as one of the true breakthrough country artists of the past two years. Her platinum-selling hit “Burning House” (from her debut album Untamed) is the most downloaded song by a female country artist since 2015. The California-born star’s “Diane” is a new song of love, regret and commiseration inspired by Dolly Parton’s classic “Jolene.” Cam headlines The Best Coast tour on nine West Coast dates beginning November 28.
Born Lonnie Rashied Lynn, rapper Common has transcended his hip-hop roots to become a force in Hollywood as an actor and musician. He won an Oscar and Golden Globe award for “Glory,” which appeared in the 2015 film Selma. The Chicago native, who is also an Emmy and Grammy winner, has teamed with Andra Day on “Stand Up For Something” from the Marshall film soundtrack.
Since releasing his platinum debut single “Cowboys and Angels” in 2012, Dustin Lynch has been on a steady path toward superstardom. He’s racked up five consecutive No. 1 hits, three Top 5 albums and tours with country music A-listers like Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Brad Paisley. Lynch, who honed his sound in Nashville, released his third album, Current Mood, this fall, which includes the memorable mid-tempo tune “Small Town Boy.”
The music that Wyclef Jean has written, performed and produced–both as a solo superstar and as founder of the Fugees–has been a pop cultural force for more than two decades. In 1996, the Fugees released their monumental album The Score. Plus, Jean’s six solo albums have sold nearly nine million copies worldwide. In September, he released his first studio album in eight years, Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee.
Goo Goo Dolls
Smokey Robinson’s career spans more than four decades of hits as a solo artist and founder of The Miracles. A pillar of the Motown sound that dominated the 1960s and 1970s, Robinson’s catalog includes R&B classics like “Shop Around,” “Tears of a Clown” and more. He also wrote hits for Motown greats including The Temptations, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye and others. Bob Dylan once called him America’s “greatest living poet.” Robinson continues to thrill sold-out audiences around the world with his high tenor voice, impeccable timing and profound sense of lyric.
Born in Geneva, Switzerland, and raised in Los Angeles, Katerina “Kat” Graham is a versatile performer. She acts, sings and even has been a backup dancer for Missy Elliott. For eight years, she starred in CW’s The Vampire Diaries and has recently played Jada Pinkett in the 2017 Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me. On Graham’s recent album, Love Music Funk Magic, mentor Babyface and friend Prince (before his death in April 2016) added their unique touches.
The Radio City Rockettes™
The Radio City Rockettes are a legendary dance company and have been a part of the fabric of New York City for decades. Since their debut in the Christmas Spectacular in 1933, the Rockettes have danced into the hearts of millions and spread Christmas cheer to people of all ages. Their precision technique continues to inspire fans of all ages and their talent and athleticism is unrivaled.
Born in Tennessee and raised in Mississippi, Olivia Holt first made a name for herself appearing in national TV commercials and various Disney TV and film projects. Recently, the 20-year-old has starred in Same Kind of Different As Me with Renée Zellweger and Greg Kinnear. But Holt’s love for music makes her a legit double threat. Her 2016 debut EP, Olivia, which is a five-song intro her dancefloor-friendly sound, features the empowering anthem “Phoenix.”
JoJo Siwa–a YouTube personality and social media influencer from Omaha, Nebraska–is hugely popular among the tween and early-teen set. She sings and dances (“Boomerang” has been viewed more than 380 million times). She has authored a New York Timesbestseller and appears regularly on Nickelodeon. At only 14, Siwa pretty much does it all.
Andy Grammer has created his own lane between contemporary soul and pop. You can hear his signature sound on hits like “Fresh Eyes”. “Give Love,” features LunchMoney Lewis from his upcoming third album, is poised to continue his good run.
Miss America Cara Mund
In 2017, Cara Mund became the first Miss America from North Dakota. She’s a Brown University graduate, national dance champion and a relative of Victoria Claflin Woodhull, the first woman to run for U.S. President and other pioneering efforts. Plus, Mund’s charitable efforts include raising more than $78,500 for Make-A-Wish®, which President Barack Obama recognized in 2011.
Leslie Odom Jr.
Leslie Odom, Jr. is renowned for his Tony® Award- and Grammy® Award-winning turn as Aaron Burr in Broadway’s Hamilton. However, the singer, actor and performer calls music his first love. He has showcased the versatile range of his powerhouse voice on his self-titled solo debut album, which earned praise from The New York Times and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums chart. For this holiday season, he has updated his 2016 album, Simply Christmas.
Padma Lakshmi is internationally known as an actress, food expert, model, New York Times best-selling author. She is also the recipient of the 2016 NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor. She has created Padma’s Easy Exotic, with products ranging from frozen organic foods, fine teas and natural spice blends. Lakshmi also serves as host and executive producer of Bravo’s Emmy award-winning Top Chef.
Tom Colicchio is the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which includes New York’s Craft, Riverpark and more. Plus, he opened ‘Wichcraft–a sandwich and salad fast-casual concept restaurant–in NYC in 2003. When he’s not in the kitchen, Colicchio can be found tending to his garden on the North Fork of Long Island, enjoying a day of fishing or playing guitar. He’s been the lead judge on Bravo’s Top Chef for all 15 seasons.
Ten-year-old singer Angelica Hale is on a mission. At age 6, a kidney transplant from her mother saved the Atlanta youngster from life-threatening illnesses. Hale, the runner-up in Season 12 of America’s Got Talent, is now determined to use music to help increase awareness of kidney disease and prevention. She also hopes to raise funds for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the hospital where she recovered, as well as other children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada.
Bebe Rexha burst onto the scene in 2013 when her songwriting helped Eminem’s “The Monster” feat. Rihanna become a worldwide hit. Since then, the New York-born singer has released two albums and several chart-topping hits (“Me, Myself & I” with G-Eazy and “No Broken Hearts” feat. Nicki Minaj). Her most recent single, “Meant To Be” with Florida Georgia Line has amassed more than 30 million global streams.
Singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina is a runner-up in season 10 of American Idol, is one of country music’s rising stars. Described in Parade magazine as a “sassy Southerner with killer pipes,” showcases her storytelling skills on her second album, Road Less Traveled. She is currently on the Love Unleashed tour with Martina McBride.
Nick Rivera Caminero, aka Nicky Jam, is known around the world as a reggaeton pioneer. Born in 1981 in Boston, as a boy he moved with his family to Puerto Rico. As a young adult, he dropped a string of radio hits and enjoyed international success. A highlight of his recent resurgence in popularity is the 2015 smash “El Perdón,” a collaboration with Enrique Iglesias. By 2017, Nicky released a new album Fenix and made his film debut in Vin Diesel’s XXX: Return of Xander Cage.
Sabrina Carpenter is on the brink of becoming one of the next Disney actresses to make it big in pop music. When she’s not acting, the 18-year-old Pennsylvania native has been delivering catchy tunes and performing in high-energy live shows. In 2017, Carpenter co-wrote and released the critically acclaimed song “Why” and, for the holidays, a breathy, soulful version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
Known as the Godmother of Soul, Patti LaBelle has belted out soulful slow jams for more than 50 years. Her biggest hits include “If You Only Knew”, “New Attitude” and “Lady Marmalade.” But the Grammy®-winning entertainer is also a popular author and entrepreneur. She has written five best-selling books, launched Patti’s Good Life and starred in TV cooking specials. Plus, her humanitarian work–for adoption, foster care, Big Sisters, the United Negro College Fund, the American Diabetes Association and more–is also noteworthy.