The cheerleaders that opened the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade were actually cheery this morning. The song choice was antithetical to the times, since there are not many Americans in the mood to "celebrate good times, c'mon." Nevertheless it was oddly reassuring to see a retail company throw a parade. For a couple of hours of normalcy and nostalgia, we can give thanks to Macy's today.
Best Parade Entertainment Moments
The Fred Hill Briefcase Drill Team was a hoot. If Fred Hill still owned the clothing store that the group was first formed to promote, I would want to shop there just to support their silliness.
The close second hoot of the day was the Greater St. Petersburg Area Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band. If 85 year-old trombone players and pensioned pompom matrons can march their way onto the world's most famous parade route, could any turnaround be impossible?
Best References to Economic Challenges
Sometimes it's best to give a name to the elephant sitting in the living room, and today the name of the elephant was "retail recession." The ribbon to start the parade wasn't cut until after the official scissors-holder said, "It's been a tough years for America. Don't you think it's time for a parade?" Kudos to Macy's for stating the obvious so that we could all move beyond our depression about the recession and enjoy the festivities.
Most Premature Balloon Appearances
Did anyone else find it odd that the new balloons this year included a Smurf and Buzz Lightyear? I couldn't figure out what was "new" about either one of these characters, or why Disney or Lafig Bengium would be able to justify the "balloon" line item on their fourth quarter profit and loss statement. Okay, it is the 50th Anniversary of the three-apple-tall skipping blue woodland creatures, so that makes that appearance smurfifiable.
However, both of the "new" balloons were plugging films that won't be released until 2010, and that seems oddly premature. Was it that there were no current characters worthy of helium? Or, I had to wonder, was it that there were no new balloon takers so the 2010 movie makers were offered a discount? No matter. There were more balloons this year than last, and most people wouldn't have cared if Superman and Underdog were the "new" characters, as long as there were balloons flying.
In the 40 something years that I've been watching the parade, I don't recall it influencing my holiday shopping. But today, in gratitude to the retailer that staged a feel-good event for millions of people who weren't feeling so good, I printed my "$10 OFF" coupon and set my alarm for 3:00 a.m. I'll be spending money on something at Macy's before the sun rises on Black Friday, and I'll be happy to be making the purchase.
Gratitude, it turns out, is contagious.