Louisiana's 'Celebration Gator' to make its debut at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
BATON ROUGE - Features mimicking the French Quarter, Jackson Square and Mardi Gras will all embellish one float that is not parading through the streets of New Orleans.
When more than 75 million people tune in to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, one float will look very familiar to Louisianans.
“It’s an alligator crawling down the street, wagging its tail with its mouth opening with a pelican on its nose,” Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said.
It’s a float with bite and lots of Louisiana flare.
This float will be taking to the streets of New York City Thursday for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
But, for such a big occasion, Nungesser thought the float needed to sell Louisiana right.
“We need a wow factor,” Nungesser said.
And, after several draft designs, the “wow factor” is eventually what they got.
“So after going back and forth, they finally said this is our last offer,” Nungesser said. “And it's the largest float ever.”
Not only is the float 60 feet in length, but it also has French Quarter cast-iron balconies and a paddle wheel pushing the float through New York City.
“We wanted to make it larger than life,” said Jordan Dabby, senior director of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade partnership marketing media. “It's special and unique. It's entirely different than any float that you'll see in the parade.”
Another unique aspect of the float is that it is the only float that does not have a float skirt.
“It'll still look beautiful,” Dabby said. “It's just a totally different execution, one that's extremely rare for what we've done at the parade studio.
With only a few days until Thanksgiving, the “Celebration Gator” is finally ready to crawl down the street.
“It is now preparing for its ride down the line of march,” Dabby said.
But designing the float came with some challenges.
“The state of Louisiana has so much to offer,” Dabby said. “And the challenge is how do you tell that entire story within this float design?”
The story of the float showcases Louisiana’s unique tourism, and Nungesser hopes the float’s features showcasing Cajun culture, good times and Jazz—with Louisiana native Jon Batiste—will welcome tourists back to the state.
“Reaching so many people with a good theme and a good, warm and fuzzy feeling will make people say, ‘Well, let's go. Let's go visit that city, that town in that state,’” Nungesser said.
The float is one of five new floats to debut in the parade. However, Louisianans will not be making a debut on this float.
“Macy's Parade does not allow anyone but their family or the Macy's crew,” Nungesser said. “So they'll have their children dressed up like little alligators and they'll be riding waving.”
But prime placement in the parade along with national attention is priceless for Louisiana’s tourism industry.
“We just couldn't buy that kind of publicity,” Nungesser said.
Whether it is fishing on the bayou or letting the good times roll in the streets of New Orleans, Nungesser hopes the float will bring in everyone to experience Louisiana.
A Louisiana float will also be featured in the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day with a number of Louisiana riders including American Idol’s Laine Hardy, spelling-bee champion Zaila Avant-Garde, a state first responder and a hurricane recovery volunteer.
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