In the classic 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is featured and celebrated -- even introducing us to the movie's most cherished character, Kris Kringle. But, its prominence wasn't limited to the silver screen -- the parade became an American institution. Fast forward to today’s politically correct environment. The same parade steeped in years of tradition is now also steeped in controversy.
Animal activists plan to line the route of Thursday’s parade to protest a SeaWorld float after accusations in a new documentary called “Blackfish” that the theme parks treat whales badly. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), or, as my dad likes to call them, “People Eating Tasty Animals,” claims it has sent Macy’s more than 80,000 emails from animal lovers demanding that the store remove the float.
Among the balloon bashers will be Alec Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria. Last week, they wrote a letter to Macy’s CEO Terry J. Lundgren imploring him to ban SeaWorld from the parade.
“Thanks to the documentary Blackfish … the public knows that SeaWorld is a cruel prison for whales. At least 35 orcas and dozens of dolphins have died prematurely at SeaWorld parks, which should not be celebrated with a giant Shamu float parading down 34th Street.”
The Baldwins aren’t the only ones who have a “beef” with the parade’s schedule. South Dakota cattlemen requested the "I Love Rock n' Roll" singer Joan Jett not stand on their state’s tourism float, refusing to let a vegetarian and animal-rights ally represent their meat-loving state.
Macy’s has succeeded for years in steering its balloons clear of political controversy. Since its introduction in November 1924, the event has had the objective of promoting hope and optimism. Consider in 1963, when, six days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the parade went on as planned because officials reasoned that the “celebration would lift spirits.”
The parade’s executive producer Amy Kule told The Associated Press that event planners and float creators try to promote the same positive attitude today:
“There is no controversy,” she said. “Our goal is to entertain and that is their goal as well.”
Parade goers acknowledge this as well. The Jackson Sun in Tennessee interviewed spectators about why they appreciate the annual event:
“It was just as exciting as it was when I was little,” she said. “I think the parade always brings out the child in everybody.”
Now, unfortunately, that’s apparent in more ways than one.
Come Thursday, if the wind holds off, millions of us will still enjoy watching characters we all know and love fly above the streets of New York City. Kermit the Frog, SpongeBob, and, of course, Snoopy will all put smiles on our faces, despite animal rights activists and their selfish agendas. When we watch Shamu fly through the sky Thursday, I doubt spectators will be thinking, animal cruelty!
Enjoy the show everyone.