Tom Turkey is the oldest, most recurring, and most famous float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.Tom is an animatronic Thanksgiving turkey who has two people dressed as pilgrims riding on top of him, and is also surrounded by actors dressed as pilgrims. Decorating the float around him are pumpkins and hay bales. He is controlled by a series of cables, levers and pulleys.
History with the Macy's Parade
Tom Turkey was introduced to the parade in 1971 with much lighter colors than the current version, and did not have a rope around the float. This version was mostly furnished by Macy's for the 21 years it appeared, before being retired after the 1992 Parade.
His current, bigger version first appeared in 1993. He has appeared in every parade since his debut, except the 77th (in 2003), when he took a "Thanksgiving Off" and was replaced by Macy's "Gorgeous Gobbler" novelty balloon. He generally leads the parade as the first float, bookending the spectacle together with Santa Claus, whose arrival into Herald Square traditionally ends the event. In recent years, the Tom Turkey float has been sponsored by the E. W. Scripps Company. This version was retired after 2017.
In 2018, a brand-new, more updated, version of Tom Turkey will debut. This version of the float will be the first self-propelled float in the Parade's history. Alongside Tom, the Parade's logo will be featured at the front. The float will be escorted by cheerleaders and showgirls.
In addition to being a float, Tom Turkey was also given a Balloonicle version for the Macy's Holiday Parade, which appeared in 2015 and 2016, leading the parade, just like his float counterpart. This Balloonicle was later used as a cold-air decoration for a marquee on Macy's Herald Square for the 2017 and 2018 parades.