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5 Best Years For Alternative Artists At The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

macys thanksgiving parade
[Photos via Spotify]

Ah, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. A hallowed American institution and a can’t-miss event for Garfield fans. As the New York City-based parade progresses through the streets, so too does it run across almost every television screen in the nation. While the floats and balloons ranging from the Pillsbury Doughboy, Kermit The Frog, and Snoopy have remained iconic for years upon years, we are still fixated on the unbelievable alternative celebrity guest cameos through the mid-2000s and early 2010s. After all, what’s a better precursor to bizarre, unsolicited political dinner conversation than a live performance from Plain White T’s?

These alternative acts graced this beloved Turkey Day festivity and made these Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade years some of the best in the biz, IMHO. Additionally, don’t miss out on the great dancers, Broadway performances, and floats for the 2023 parade. Artists such as JAX, Jon Batiste, and the legendary Cher will be gracing the parade this year, alongside Santa Claus in the flesh. You can check out Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC or stream on Peacock on November 23 beginning at 8:30 AM ET.

Simple Plan (2003)

Simple Plan appeared alongside candy’s biggest celebs, the red and yellow M&M on the M&M’s Network float. The band played “Addicted” from 2002’s No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, which sadly, neither Katie Couric or Matt Lauer would say aloud on air. If that wasn’t bad enough, the two parade hosts cut Simple Plan‘s performance short. (We know they fade out most artists before the song is over, but we took this personally.) Thankfully, we did get to hear “Addicted” in full at this year’s When We Were Young Fest. Other notable performances from 2003 included Hilary Duff singing “So Yesterday” on the American Classic Malt Shop float and Aaron Carter performing “One Better” on Teddy Bear’s Workshop.

Boys Like Girls (2009)

Boys Like Girls came to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and made it romantically emo as hell… at 10 AM. No complaints here, it’s merely a wild vibe shift for all the normies who were watching at home. On the Hess Corporation’s “Bridge To The Future” float, the Boston-based band sang “Two Is Better Than One” from 2009’s Love Drunk. The only way it could have been cooler is if Taylor Swift was on the float with them, too. This year also marked a major one for iconic women in rock as Cyndi Lauper appeared on the parade to sing “Set Your Heart,” and Carly Simon performed “Let The River Run.”

Avril Lavigne and Cobra Starship (2011)

We are offering major props to Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade for absolutely feeding all of the alt kids and adults in the audience. This 2011 parade is officially a time capsule. Avril Lavigne sang “Wish You Were Here” under the massive Tom Turkey float in skull-adorned black fingerless gloves. Cobra Starship brought the club to the kids with “You Make Me Feel…” on the “Bridge To The Future” float. Gabe Saporta in shades alongside Vicky-T with her keytar in hand really made history, if we’re being honest with each other.

Fall Out Boy, The Summer Set, Joan Jett & The Black Hearts (2013)

Macy’s may genuinely never create a better alternative lineup than they did in 2013. Not only did Fall Out Boy sing “Alone Together” on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles float, but Patrick Stump also wore his trademark fedora. And yes, that is something we are thankful for. If it were up to us, there would be four balloons that look exactly like the band, and they’d appear annually. Plus, The Summer Set made their parade debut singing “Lightning In A Bottle” from Legendary, as the winners of the iHeartRadio’s Rising Star contest. The lineup just keeps getting better as none other than Joan Jett & The Blackhearts performed “Any Weather” in the middle of the Pep Rally.

Panic! At The Disco and The Plain White T’s (2015)

Panic! At The Disco brought the excitement of Death Of A Bachelor to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a wild performance of “Victorious.” Just like Fall Out Boy two years prior, P!ATD rocked out with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 2015, alternative fans also had the chance to see Plain White T’s perform “American Nights” on the “A World at Sea” float. Classic rock fans were also treated to the holiday stylings of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, who sang “One December Night.” Here’s to hoping Turnstile makes a holiday song just so we can selfishly see them for a parade spot one day, too.

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