Whether you flip on the TV Thanksgiving morning to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York City or head to downtown Detroit to watch America's Thanksgiving Parade in person — or check out many other holiday parades — keep in mind that they would look very different without plastics.
Float makers shape mounds of expanded polystyrene into turkeys and cornucopias and fairy tale cottages that glide along parade routes.
Yards of polyurethane go into the balloons that soar overhead.
And sure, the Rose Bowl Parade's floats on New Year's Day may be covered with “organic material,” but you don't think that entire artificial playground is actually just made up of rose petals, do you? Instead, it's all about wire frames, clay and foam structures and a thin layer of flowers and seeds on the top.
If you want to get an idea of what goes into this year's floats and how those gigantic balloons are made, Business Insider had a nice behind-the-scenes look before last year's Thanksgiving parade in New York. (Yes, it refers to the shaping material as “styrofoam.” Try to look past that.)
Among the tidbits:
• Macy's Parade Studio makes both floats and balloons at a warehouse in Moonachie, N.J., working from the initial drawing on up to the parade itself.
• The studio has a full-time crew of 26.
• The balloons are hand painted while inflated, so the paint won't crack.
• Each float has to be able to be packed down onto a trailer to fit through the Lincoln Tunnel to then be reassembled on site in New York the day before the parade.
For a closer look at the balloons and the “baloonatics” who build them, check out this video from Science Friday, and get a little more on how the studio uses physics to help determine how to get the balloons ready for their moment on camera.