MIDTOWN — Times Square advertisers angry about a plan to move the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade away from the Crossroads of the World took their message to the streets Thursday as all eyes were watching.
Beginning Wednesday night, seven billboards throughout the square began displaying ads with vintage photographs of the parade, intended to push organizers into keeping the parade’s current route, which travels from the west side along Central Park South, and then down Seventh Avenue into Times Square, before heading to Herald Square.
“Saluting 85 years of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Times Square,” said one of the ads, which features an image of a giant Betty Boop balloon float tipping her hat as she floats through the square back in 1996, according to an image released by organizers ahead of the displays.
Times Square businesses and advertisers, including the Times Square Alliance, have been waging a campaign against a plan, first reported by DNAinfo in March, to shift the parade over to Sixth Avenue beginning next year.
Macy’s has argued that the proposed route is wider and straighter, making it safer for balloons and spectators.
The move would also accommodate work on a $27 million redesign plan for the square, which is expected to begin in the fall of 2012, the city has said.
But business owners along the current route have warned that the city stands to lose tens of millions of dollars if it goes through with the move, which they say will be a blow to the 200 retailers along the stretch and nearly 7,000 hotel rooms in the area, where revelers traditionally gather to watch the parade.
“For 85 years the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been synonymous with Times Square. The balloons and floats have been here for a reason — because it is the most exhilarating visual location in the City, if not the world. We can't imagine the impact being the same on 6th Avenue,” said Alan High said, chair of the Times Square Advertising Coalition, which organized the campaign, in a statement.
Crain’s New York Business reported last week that some in the Times Square business community now believe the route change could be put off at least a year because of anticipated delays in construction on the redesign plan.
The Times Square Alliance has also been working on ways to improve the parade experience, such as creating extra room along Seventh Avenue, to encourage Macy's to stay, the paper said.