8. The Macy’s Thanksgiving balloons commute into NYC

snail balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon inflation

Many of Macy’s balloons are designed and constructed in a special studio in Moonachie, New Jersey. Balloons are given trial runs inside the studio, where they are checked for leaks and subjected to different tests for wind sheer at various heights. When tested, the balloon is filled with air, not helium, and is expected to float for at least six hours.

Once they’ve been given the OK, they are packed into boxes no more than 12 and half feet tall and 8 feet wide so they could fit through the Lincoln Tunnel toll booth for their commute into Manhattan. From the tunnel, they are taken to the front of the American Museum of Natural History, where they are inflated between the hours of 3 and 10 p.m. It is reported that about a million people come out to view what used to be the parade’s best-kept secret.