9 Pop Culture Characters to Make the Thanksgiving Parade Actually Interesting

Every time I spend Thanksgiving with my lovely sister Shannon, I’m subjected to the odious torture that is the Thanksgiving Day parade. Every year since 1924, we Americans have celebrated this march of commercialism by standing outside in the cold for hours to watch thousands of people walk around town.

The absolute worst part of these parades is a tie between lip syncing “musicians” and the TV morning show talking heads whose cheesy repertoire and plastered smiles I manage to avoid the other 364 days of the year.

Parade announcer: “We are having SUCH a fun time here today! My soul is definitely not dead inside. This next float features Andy Dick, everyone’s favorite D-lister. This float was inspired by how Kathy Griffin’s career ended…”

Of course, the best part of the parades has always been the huge character balloons, which began over 90 years ago when Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, and others drifted over Manhattan. I wasn’t there, but it was the bees knees, and by the time I was a kid they balloons had gotten bigger and better. Underdog. Spider-man. Kermit the Frog. Woody Woodpecker.

Eventually, the Gen X characters of my youth were replaced with millennial cartoon characters, which is fine I guess, although I’ve never gotten over Woody Woodpecker’s sudden absence one year.

Most of all, parades just aren’t very interesting. Even kids can’t focus for more than a few minutes at a time. So I got to thinking, what would the parade look like if it was actually awesome? Here are some pop culture icons I would roll through the streets of New York if I were the king of the parade (or whatever they call the person in charge of a parade).

1. Stephen King 

Look, there’s only one Grand Marshal to my version of the pop culture parade, and his name is Stephen King. I want him right out front like a literary Moses, parting the way for all to come. Actually, I’m not sure when the grand marshal actually appears in a parade, but this is how I would do it.

2. Stranger Things Float

Look, we can still include kids. I’m not a monster (or Demogorgon). I’m picturing the cast of Netflix’s smash hit Stranger Things rolling down 6th Avenue, Steve’s hair flapping majestically in the wind. Farrah Fawcett would be proud. If you want singing, we got Dylan (Gaten Matarazzo) out there ready to belt out a number from Les Miserables.

3. Lin-Manuel Miranda montage

Speaking of Broadway, let’s get my hero Lin-Manuel Miranda out there, with assorted cast members from In the Heights, Hamilton, and Moana. Now THAT would be a musical performance. And they could even actually sing live.

4. Game of Thrones battle

I am all for random dancing troupes you’ve never heard of. If you can dance, bring it. We gotta fill those spaces between the main acts. But the choreography I really want to see in this parade is a full GoT battle reenactment. I’m talking Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister, Cersei, Tyrion, the Mother of Dragons, and more. Seeing Brienne of Tarth donning full battle gear in The Big Apple would be a real miracle on 34th Street.

5. Foo Fighters

I appreciate great marching bands, but my parade would feature some more intense percussion. GIVE ME DAVE GROHL.

6. Caesar from Planet of the Apes balloon

Okay, we have to get some sweet giant balloons up in the air. You want a beloved pop culture character the rest of us can get behind (or under)? Give us Caesar.

7. Star Trek float

We need a float shaped like the Starship Enterprise and featuring all the legends of the entire franchise on board. Kirk. Picard. Bakula. Kate Mulgrew. I don’t know the names of the newer version of the show so well, but that matters not. Give us Klingons and phasers on stun. That’s what the holidays are all about.

8. Mad Max chase scene

Near the end of this Thanksgiving Day Parade, we need a big, climactic sequence. George Miller is the only director I want running my show, and he can whip up some of that Mad Max: Fury Road madness that  the fans will adore, just as soon as they step way back from the main lane. Here comes Imperator Furiosa now!

9. Pennywise the Clown

If we have to have a clown, there’s only one for me. Sorry Ronald McDonald, but Pennywise is the monster at the end of this parade. Because they’re all floats down here. And you’ll float too.

Anyway, that’s how I would amp up this dull parade. You won’t want to miss a second.

btw I once put some thought into which cartoon float characters would make an idea football team.

Check out 28 Classic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Characters for Football

What iconic pop culture characters or scenes would you add?

Author: Clay Morgan

Clay Morgan is the author of Undead. Say hi on Twitter.

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