We recently covered 10 fun facts about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, such as the manufacturing process behind the scenes and some of the strange design choices. Now, read about the secrets of the parade itself, including facts about the parade’s history and what really goes on behind this spectacular event!

1. Macy’s is the world’s second largest consumer of helium

Macy’s uses an average of 12,000 cubic feet of helium per balloon (enough to fill about 2,500 bathtubs), making it the largest helium consumer after the U.S. government. To test the balloons before the parade, however, they use air rather than helium to inflate each balloon chamber. If the balloon can float for six hours, it passes the test.