Jennie-O gets ready for the big show with glittery float in the annual Macy's holiday parade

To help celebrate its 80th anniversary, the Jennie-O Turkey Store will make its inaugural appearance Thursday in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Because of COVID-19, the parade is being modified for a strictly televised event that will air from 9 a.m. to noon on NBC and Telemundo.

This sketch of the Jennie-O float for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is posted on Courtesy of

WILLMAR — A roasted turkey is the star of the show on most Thanksgiving tables, but this year a Jennie-O turkey will be the star of the show on the televised 2020 Thanksgiving Day parade in Manhattan.

For the first time, the annual Macy’s holiday parade will feature a giant float sponsored by the Willmar-based Jennie-O Turkey Store, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary.

Measuring 36 feet long, 25 feet wide and 24 feet tall, the float will include feathers, glitter, a crew of dancers and a celebrity singer.

Dubbed the “Big Turkey Spectacular,” the Jennie-O float is making its debut appearance in the parade as part of a three-year commitment by Jennie-O.


A construction photo of the Jennie-O Turkey Store's Thanksgiving Day float shows feathers of a large turkey that will be taking center stage during the annual parade in New York City sponsored by Macy's. Photo courtesy of Jennie-O Turkey Store

“To recognize our 80th anniversary, we are joining the iconic parade line-up and are proud that for the first time in the parade’s 94-year history, Jennie-O will be the first turkey brand partner in the event,” said Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the parade will not march down the usual typical 2½-mile parade route that typically attracts 3.5 million people to the streets.

Instead, according to the Macy’s parade website , the event will be “reimagined over the course of several days as a television-only event leading up to the live Thanksgiving Day broadcast.”

On Thursday the balloons, floats and performers will be showcased in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street for the live national television special that will be broadcast on NBC and Telemundo from 9 a.m. to noon in all time zones.

It’s not known exactly when the Jennie-O float will be seen, but appearing in the parade will expose Jennie-O to an estimated 50 million viewers nationwide.

RELATED: Jennie-O announces parade plans

Although Thanksgiving will be different for most families this year, watching the holiday parade is a tradition that doesn’t change, said Lykken.


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Steve Lykken, Jennie-O Turkey Store

“We’ll have pop superstar Bebe Rexha performing on our float, with all the glitz and glamour you’d expect from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We can’t wait for everyone to watch,” he said.

Jennie-O worked with the Macy’s parade organization to design the float, which was made in New Jersey.

According to the Macy’s parade website, the Jennie-O float will be “ glittering in the signature gold and green hues of the iconic brand ” and that the “one-of-a-kind turkey stage” features dancers and a “Thanksgiving surprise under its hat.”

A fun fact that Macy’s revealed about the float is that each of the performers will carry feathered fans to “bring the tail of turkey to life.”

A peak at a detail of Jennie-O Turkey Store float that will be in the Thanksgiving Day parade Thursday in New York. Photo courtesy of Jennie-O Turkey Store

The addition of the Jennie-O float marks the first time the parade, which is synonymous with turkey, will actually feature a turkey brand.

To help avoid the pitfalls of cooking the Thanksgiving Day turkey and for advice on what to do with leftovers, Jennie-O’s hotline is available at 1-800-TURKEYS. Consumers also may ask turkey prep questions via live chat at the Jennie-O brand website and via mobile device by texting the word "turkey" to 73876.


Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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