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Macy’s Long-Lost 1982 Parade Footage

Updated: Apr 18, 2022


Nearly a decade ago, I found a bunch of old VHS tapes in a box, lost in the eaves with other storage. To my great horror, these tapes—all home movies and recorded television programming from my childhood—were covered in mold. Not one to let precious childhood memories get trashed, I sourced a cheap VCR from a thrift store (so as not to contaminate my good VCR and other, clean tapes) and went about digitizing whatever was salvageable. It turned out, despite the contamination, most of the footage was okay, if not a little compromised in quality.


Among the many hours of footage, I found a short clip from one of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades. It was only a few minutes long and showed a small glimpse of the Superman balloon followed by the full song "An Animal is a Kid's Best Friend" from the Strawberry Shortcake Float. After that there were a few VHS glitches and the opening to a Rankin and Bass Special (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).

I thought it was a cool little snippet of my childhood, so I decided to post it to YouTube, not expecting much of a response. I originally mislabeled the clip as being from 1983 [1], but was quickly corrected by a number of YouTube comments telling me what I had found was actually a clip from the 56th Annual Macy’s Day Parade, aired in 1982. I was further informed that this particular parade footage had been lost (or at least no one had yet shared the full parade online) and that even this small glimpse of the footage was a big deal.


As reported by The Lost Media Wiki, the parade was notable in part for the Sesame Street float featuring Will Lee (Mr. Hooper), who was hospitalized only days later and passed from cancer on December 7th. There were also two balloon debuts that year (Olive Oyl and Woody Woodpecker), but what I have come to understand as the real draw to this broadcast was a performance by Laura Branigan.


In true Macy’s absurdist fashion, Laura rode through the entire parade on a giant rocking horse while singing her hit, “Gloria.” She’s surrounded by a bunch of characters dressed as dolls and stuffed animals. Notably, for those wondering why I’m writing about Thanksgiving on Easter [2], there’s a giant bunny dancing its little heart out. You’re welcome.


I have to say, Laura Branigan seems really into the performance, which is commendable. Over the years I’ve watched many parades, and the performers aren’t always feeling it. It’s a joy to watch.

And the big news here is that you can finally watch it! The full parade footage has been found and posted by “Laura Branigan Forever - Matty” on Youtube. Even better, the footage is stunningly clear. There are no commercials intact with the broadcast, but we’re told this recording was from NBC Los Angeles [3]. Watch below!

A personal thank you to YouTube user Naminski for alerting me to the big news.


 

[1] I forget how I came up with that year, but I think it was based on a copyright from a commercial later on the tape.

[2] This footage was only just posted two days ago, on April 15th 2022, which is really why I'm writing about it now. [3] Also known as KNBC-4, We're Channel 4, Just Watch Us Now!

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Photog Smurf
Photog Smurf
Apr 18, 2022

That's freakin' incredible. I had noticed last year while putting together a list of the best floats and balloons from the '70s, '80s, and '90s that '82 was conspicuously missing from... well everywhere. To have it be found in such quality video/sound quality is just awesome!

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It really is. I was extremely excited when I heard about it and had to spread the news!

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