As everyone knows, the Thanksgiving holiday would not be complete without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It has become an annual tradition for so many families who either watch from the comfort of their own homes or head to New York City to view the elaborate floats, massive balloon displays, and star-studded performances in person. While the parade always has its stunning and jaw-dropping moments over the years, it also has had its fair share of fiascos and wild stunts that have gone viral — whether it be an epic lip-sync fail or something as adorable as a dabbing performer.
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So take a scroll down memory lane and look at some of the most memorable moments that have come out of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade throught the years! Ch-ch-check it out below:
Al Roker Vs. The Butter Man
In 2019, TODAY show anchor Al Roker went viral when he got into a little tiff with a man dressed as a stick of butter. Yeah, you read that right. The drama started when the guy – whose real name is Donny Willis – stepped into one of the host’s shots during the parade. Al immediately shoved him away, saying:
“I hate to butter you up, but you gotta move on. Get out of here, ya butter! Ah! I can’t believe it’s not butter!”
Later, the butter man tried chasing Al down once again while he was riding in a motorcycle sidecar to offer a street view of the crowds and festivities in NYC. The 68-year-old could not resist throwing some slight shade at Donny, commenting:
“And that’s why everybody loves clowns”
At that moment began Al and the butter man’s rivalry! You ch-ch-check out the hilarious feud (below):
A year later, the two men reunited (below), this time on friendlier terms and with plenty of puns:
“Butter is back and better than ever. Donny Willis is reprising his role, and when I say role, I mean ‘buttered roll.’”
A post shared by TODAY (@todayshow)
Spider-Man & Uncle Sam Get Intimate
Talk about a hilariously awkward moment! Back in 2012, while they were inflating the balloons and getting them ready the night before the 86th annual parade, the crowd caught the Spider-Man and Uncle Sam balloons in an NSFW position. What do we mean? Well, somehow they managed to get really close together, and Spider-man’s face got really familiar with Uncle Sam’s butt. Yeahhhh… You’ll have to ch-ch-check it out for yourselves (below):
As you can imagine, the intimate situation had a lot of people snapping photos and talking on social media!
Rita Ora’s Lip Sync Mishap
It is no secret that many singers usually lip-sync at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (except for Kelly Clarkson) as it can be extremely cold and a logistical nightmare since the floats move throughout the parade. For celebs, lip-syncing isn’t a foolproof solution and can be a little hard to pull off on live television. And no one knows this better than Rita Ora, who completely missed her cue to start her song Let You Love Me during the 2018 parade and spent the entire performance completely out of sync. It was to the point that she looked like she didn’t know the words! Ch-ch-check it out (below):
Oof! Unsurprisingly, people soon brutally ripped into her on social media for the lip-sync mishap – leading celebs like John Legend to come to her defense:
“Fun fact. We all have to lip sync on this parade because the floats don’t have the capacity to handle the sound requirements for a live performance. Hope y’all enjoyed it anyway. Know that if you come to my shows, the vocals are 100% live!”
The 31-year-old then responded:
“Fun fact @johnlegend thank you for clarifying what I was about to also tweet. It’s annoying for us but anyway! All my shows are 100 percent live always have been! When you come to a ORA show get ready! Back to holidays! Have a good one guys! 🙂 X”
Macy’s also had to apologize for the tech issues at the time, saying:
“During today’s NBC broadcast of the #MacysParade several recording artists experienced technical difficulties that negatively impacted their performance. We apologize and want fans to know these issues were out of the artist’s control.”
At least Rita tried!
Miss Piggy Saves The Day!
Who would have thought we’d see Miss Piggy save someone? But that is what happened one year at the parade! During the 2016 show, Miss Piggy from The Muppets and singer Tony Bennett were performing a duet together of Santa Claus is Coming to Town on a float. Just as their number was wrapping up, the float suddenly lurched forward, causing Tony to lose his balance and nearly fall off the ledge. However, Miss Piggy quickly sprung into action, catching and steadying him before a disaster occurred! Ch-ch-check out the scary moment that had everyone’s hearts nearly on the floor (below):
She can add national hero to the resume! LOLz!
Barney Balloon Murder???
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is no stranger to having some balloon blunders ever since it was first held on November 27, 1924. But one failure most likely left many people traumatized. Back in 1997, the Barney the Dinosaur balloon was plagued by strong gusts of wind making it hard for handlers to control the large figure. At one point, the inflatable hit a lamppost, causing it to pop. The parade workers then continued to struggle to manage it, so police officers eventually had to stab it with knives… right before the crowds very eyes.
Twenty-five years later, the moment went viral on TikTok when people started reacting to the result of googling “what killed Barney the Dinosaur.” What they most commonly found at the time is an Independent article discussing the new documentary, I Love You, You Hate Me, which explore why the character of Barney became a target for hate. But the line that appeared in the Google search for the article states:
“In November 1997, Barney the Dinosaur was stabbed to death by the New York City Police Department.”
uhhh ???? #fyp
♬ original sound – AntiNightcore
Not every moment at the Thanksgiving Day parade is all fun and games! In 2012, audience members noticed there was something weird about the confetti when it started raining down during the event. What was wrong with it? Well, it turned out that some of the confetti was shredded confidential documents from the Nassau County Police Department!
According to WPIX, people found scraps of paper showing social security numbers, incident reports, license plate numbers, phone numbers, addresses, and even something about Mitt Romney’s motorcade when he went to Hofstra University in Nassau County for the final presidential debate at the time. Wild! At the time, a spokesman for Macy’s, Orlando Veras, told CNN that the company had no idea how the important docs were used as confetti, saying they only utilized “commercially manufactured multi-colored confetti, not shredded, homemade or printed paper of any kind in the parade.”
So how did the top-secret docs end up getting used as confetti? WPIX reported sources mentioned a police employee who attended the parade had brought the shredded documents and other papers with him for his friends and family to use and throw during the parade. What a reckless and stupid move from this staff member!
Rick Astley RickRolls America!
Remember that time everyone got Rickrolled by Rick Astley during the 2008 parade? For those who have no clue what Rickrolling is, it was basically an online prank where social media users would post a link that unexpectedly re-directed other users to a video of Rick’s 1987 song Never Gonna Give You Up. Thus, the term Rickrolling. And in 2008, the singer decided to get in on the viral trend by Rickrolling the parade himself.
While characters from the old Cartoon Network children’s show Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends performed during the parade, Rick interrupted the performance to sing the track. At the end of the number, one of the puppets yelled:
“I like Rickrolling!”
See the epic moment (below):
Kinky Boots Performance
Billy Porter and the cast of the award-winning Broadway musical Kinky Boots – a show about a shoe factory owner and drag queen who team up to help save the family business – performed the finale song, Raise You Up/Just Be, at the 2013 parade. You can watch the stellar performance (below):
While many viewers at home were dazzled by the viral moment, others stormed social media to criticize the parade for letting the cast members perform at the event and feature actors in drag. Ugh. However, the performers refused to stand for the hate and had the perfect response to it! Rather than letting the controversy get them down, Billy and cast member Stark Sands went to Macy’s the day after their parade performance to do some Black Friday shopping. And the best part? Billy wore his iconic costume and Sands rock thigh-high stiletto boots! The musical co-creator Harvey Fierstein told Page Six at the time:
“You have to start a dialogue. And you can’t have a dialogue unless someone says something first. It takes actual work to open up minds.”
A rep for Macy’s also said:
“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has always spotlighted the best of Broadway since the ’60’s, and this year is no exception. As 2013’s Tony award-winning best musical, ‘Kinky Boots’ is not only a hit with Broadway fans, but Black Friday shoppers… Please have them call us and we’ll set them up with our personal shoppers.”
What an amazing response from the cast!
Sometimes people cannot help but get swept up in the festivities! In 2019, one onlooker seemed to pause in the middle of cleaning to watch as the parade traveled down their street in New York City from their second-story window. But that’s not what caught everyone’s attention! The person then began to move side-to-side while the Black Eyed Peas performed their song RITMO on a float.
Someone captured the cute moment on camera and posted the video on Twitter. And unsurprisingly, it instantly went viral, and social media users dubbed them the “window dancer.” Ch-ch-check it out (below):
This kid stole the show in 2018! During Bad Bunny’s performance of Estamos Bien, one child decided not to just stand around and wave at the crowd while riding on a Sour Patch Kids float,. Nope. He opted to add a little more spice to the performance by dabbing the entire time. And eventually, some of the other kids joined in on the fun! It’s truly an adorable moment. Watch (below):
Nutcracker Attacks Marcher!
One of the top factors that cause the Thanksgiving Day Parade to go awry? Wind. So when heavy winds decided to grace the celebration in 2019, you can imagine how much of a nightmare it had been for everyone – especially the balloon handlers. In fact, one worker that year knows all too well how much of a pain in the butt it had been!
While making its way down the streets of NYC, the nutcracker balloon started flying around due to the strong winds, and handlers struggled to get a hold of it. That is when one person decided to be brave and rushed to the massive inflatable to help out. However, she ended up colliding right into it and fell flat on her back. OUCH! Thankfully, she seemed to be OK as she immediately got back up and kept running after the balloon. See the painful moment (below):
The Rock Meme Gets A Balloon!
In 2020, we had a pretty scaled-down parade due to the coronavirus – but there was one highlight to the scaled-down event! What was it, you may ask? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when he had his very own balloon that depicted his infamous meme! You know, the iconic throwback picture of him from the 1990s where he wore a black turtleneck, silver chain, and jeans, complete with an arched eyebrow and fanny pack. And as you can imagine, the balloon had everyone talking on social media at the time! See it for yourself (below):
A post shared by Dwayne Johnson (@therock)
Nothing better than seeing a viral meme come to life!
We cannot wait to see what viral moments may come out of this year’s parade! What is your all-time favorite moment from the Thanksgiving Parade? Let us know in the comments below!
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