On Turkey Day, Louisiana will be serving up a sizable gator in the Big Apple. For the first time, Louisiana will be represented in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and with the longest float ever to be in the parade — a 60-foot gator.
“Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Office of Tourism were looking for ways to showcase the state on a national and international stage,” said Veronica Mosgrove, director of communications for the Office of Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser.
The parade has reach. More than 24 million viewers enjoy the parade every year, and that doesn’t include the livestream playbacks and social impressions. Parade coverage has been featured in 210 media markets, Mosgrove said.
“It was an ideal fit to keep Louisiana top of mind, especially now since travel has opened up,” Mosgrove said.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Louisiana generated $13.3 billion in domestic and international visitor spending in 2020, a decline of $6.3 billion since 2019. Before the pandemic, travel to the Bayou State was on the increase. Louisiana generated $19.6 billion in domestic and international visitor spending in 2019, an increase of 4.2 percent over 2018.
Mosgrove said representatives from Nungesser’s and the state’s tourism office met with the Macy’s team to share their vision of what the float should achieve. The Macy’s team also builds the float at their 72,000-square-foot warehouse in Moonachie, N.J.
The idea for the Celebration Gator was one of the concepts presented, then refined. It will be adorned with colorful azaleas, magnolias and Mardi Gras beads, a tribute to Louisiana’s rich culture from its grand riverboats to the famous French Quarter.
It’s the longest float in the parade.
“What’s over the top,” Musgrove said. “There’s no place like Louisiana and no float like this one. Its uniqueness is essential to conveying who we are as a state. We also wanted a float that would stand out and make viewers take notice.”
The design will instantly register as Louisiana’s with its iconic New Orleans architecture known around the globe. Moss-draped oaks and the alligator will also strike a chord.
“When it comes to floats, Louisiana has an advantage. No state throws a parade quite like this state,” Mosgrove said, “but we did lean into Macy’s expertise. They’ve included some small details throughout the float for viewers to enjoy as they see it through the years.”
Mosgrove said the design and build is included in the “cost of our partnership and no additional fees were incurred during the process.” The price tag was $1.375 million.
“More announcements will be made toward the end of the year about what’s happening with local areas and attractions throughout the state,” Mosgrove said. “The Celebration Gator was designed to make a splash on the national and international scene.”
The first Macy’s parade marched in 1924. This year is the 95th. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade website states that 300 pounds of glitter, 50,000 hours of labor and 4,200 costumes go into making the parade a success. The parade will air from 9 a.m. to noon in all time zones. It will rerun at 2 p.m. Catch it live on NBC or live stream it on NBC’s website or app.
Written by Rita Lebleu