Ram, the official truck of the 89th annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Pickup trucks are known for taking you to otherwise unreachable places; off roading in the desert, pulling a boat to a remote launch, bringing work materials to land without roads. Thanks to Fiat Chrysler Automobile, (FCA) makers of Jeeps and Ram trucks, I got to visit the usually off-limits Macy’s Studio in New Jersey where the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade floats and balloons are designed and assembled.
And then disassembled. Every year, as every New Yorker worth her Metrocard knows, the balloons are inflated and floats readied on the Upper West Side, ready for their trip downtown to the flagship Macy’s store. But first they have to travel through the Lincoln Tunnel, which is where Ram comes in. This year, the first in a multi-year partnership, Ram trucks will tow the 27 floats, some so large they have to be transported in pieces, from New Jersey to Manhattan.
Choirs and celebs and clowns, oh my
The coordination and lining up of the thousands of marching band members, clowns and celebrities on floats goes through the night so the parade is ready to start on Central Park West and 77th Street at 9am. John Piper, the vice president of the Macy’s Studio, has spent 35 years overseeing this massive undertaking and he pointed out the quick turn-around; the turkey float, which kicks off the parade, is towed back to New Jersey before the parade even ends (with Santa Claus, as if you didn’t know).
Between towing floats down Sixth Avenue and bringing costumes and props to their proper place, Ram will have 70 shiny heavy and light duty trucks, the 2016 Ram 1500 and 2500. These trucks will be sporting two of Rams new colors, Pearl White and Delmonico Red so they can really shine.
The light duty trucks can two 9-10,000 pounds, while the heavy duty can take on a load of 16,000.
Seeing the magic
We got to see the storyboards and clay models that are used to develop the floats. The clay models reminded me of the models that car manufacturers make when they are bringing out new cars. And the clay brought out the kid in me – as if wandering around giant floats starry eyed wasn’t enough of a thrill.
Trucks aren’t the only things new
Every year, a few floats and balloons are retired and new ones added. This year, a kind of living Advent calendar will feature children springing from some of the December dates; a tribute to cranberries, which many of us will be eating later in the day, has cranberries the size of Pomelos bobbing in a fake bog.
In conjunction with the new partnership, Ram launched a giveaway of a $15,000 voucher toward a two-year lease on a new 2015 or 2016 Ram ProMaster City and up to $5,000 towards upfits for the van for a community minded person. The #RamGivesThanks giveaway runs from November 25 – January 4.