Stories lurking behind NYC Thanksgiving Day Parade floats

By Lucy Komisar
Nov 25, 2021

New York’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was started in 1924 by immigrant workers at Macy’s Department Store. They had escaped repressive conditions in Russia and elsewhere and had a workers’ sense of solidarity and appreciation. They wanted to celebrate this American holiday with a European-style festival of the sort their parents had enjoyed.

What would they think of the current parades that replace culture with advertising to “watch this” and “buy this”! Kids love the event. And they shout at the TV and movie cartoon character floats. I know it costs money to pay for these floats, even so….I ignored the TV and film promotions and the “eat my pies” and “buy my greeting cards” floats.

Giant cop chasing giant mouse king crook.
South Dakota’s Four Presidents on Mount Rushmore.

And I looked into the darker stories behind some of the others. For example, here’s a cop chasing a rat.

But Officer, there are bigger rats here. For example, the state of South Dakota always brings this Mount Rushmore float to the parade. Did you know that South Dakota is a major money-laundering state?

It offers secret trusts where crooks and tax-evaders can stash their loot. It hides billions, some linked to people and companies accused of financial or other crimes. Put South Dakota and money-laundering in a search box. You will come up with these and more: How South Dakota became a haven for dirty money” and “Pandora Papers reveal South Dakota’s role as a 367billiion tax haven.”

Smokey the Bear had a close call with the Bank of America!

Here’s another target. When the giant Smokey the Bear balloon got to 42nd Street, it seemed to attack the tall white glassy Bank of America building, leading watchers to scream. Well, maybe Smokey knew something. The glass is the only thing transparent about that institution!

Among its dirty activities, BoA has laundered money for drug cartels. Put Bank of America and money-laundering into a search engine to see more.

This Louisiana float doesn’t tell the whole story!

Louisiana? See this 2019 article, “The most corrupt state? Louisiana owns it.” It opens with a congressman’s quip, “”Half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment.” It says that a former mayor and former congressman are “still serving sentences for public corruption.”

Many Darth Vaders.
A giraffe pursued by hunters.

When it comes to fighting corruption by big banks and other malefactors, U.S. law enforcement is often at the same level of getting their man as these hunters on the trail of a giraffe!

Remember Obama’s Justice officials saying the big banks were too big to jail! Maybe they need to adopted more sophisticated methods of these Darth Vaders!

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell who the villains are.

So better pay attention to the clowns!

Big (red) Apple and Taxi clowns.

No hidden corruption stories there, just fantasy.

New York’s Big Apple and the taxis (they get you where you want to go or take a subway) are a staple of the parade.

They like having their pictures taken!

Dancers leading Centerville Ohio Jazz Band.

And the marching bands, especially the Centerville Ohio jazz band with these terrific big bright red banner wavers.

There were also folks doing fancy jumping through twisting, twirling beaded ropes. And the Brownsburg Indiana High School marching band.

Stilt walkers: candy cane, snowflake, puppeteer and woodsman.

My favorites are the stilt walkers, here a green candy cane, a snowflake, a puppeteer and his live doll,  and a woodsman with an axe.

Statue of Liberty on stilts.

And finally, the 1886 Statue of Liberty, except we know that immigrants are not quite welcome anymore.

Those Russians who started the parade and who passed the statue on their arrival (as did my grandparents) might never have made it here today!

All photos © by Lucy Komisar.

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