Hey Arnold Christmas

Hey Cassettes and welcome back to The Christmas Case Diaries 😉 Today is an extra exciting  episode because not only are we continuing with our theme or Christmas TV specials, we are also joined by a VERY special guest: Brett Wilson!


(The beautiful art done by none other than Brett Wilson for this episode!)

Brett is an incredibly talented artist, and somewhat of an expert on classic Nickelodeon. So, we called him in to help us this week as we discuss the 1996 Hey Arnold holiday special: Arnold’s Christmas!

Tune in as we talk the brief history of Hey Arnold and why this special still brings tears to our eyes every Christmas. 

Hey Arnold History

  • The character Arnold was created by Craig Bartlett in the late 1980’s, first as a stop-motion character made from Plasticine (a clay-like material)
  • He and his wife Lisa Groening came up with the name together, and Lisa helped with other concepts of the show as well.
    • If the name Groening sounds familiar, Lisa’s brother is Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons.
  • Bartlett created three shorts in this medium, one was called, “Arnold Rides a Chair” which aired on Sesame Street! 
  • After these shorts and a run of comics in Simpson’s Illustrated magazine, Bartlett was able to sell the idea of an animated TV show about Arnold and his friends to Nickelodeon.
  • In October of 1996, Hey Arnold premiered on Nickelodeon.
    • The original pilot was a short that aired in theaters before the movie, “Harriet the Spy” and was later reworked into an episode called “24 Hours to Live” 
    • The show focused on Arnold, a 9-year-old boy growing up in the city of Hillwood, a nondescript urban setting that was a conglomerate of Seattle, Portland, and Brooklyn.
    • Arnold lives in a boarding house filled with unique and hilarious tenants, including his two loving grandparents Phil and Gertie. Arnold is a loving soul who sees the best in everyone, even his constant bully Helga Pataki. He navigates problems of everyday life with his best friend Gerald at his side, along with a cast of wonderfully strange characters. 
    • The show was a perfect blend of the relatable and the surreal; with realistic issues and settings mixed with cartoonish action and characters.
  • Later that year, the first half hour episode of the show came in the form of a holiday special called, “Arnold’s Christmas.”
    • Before the special aired, the show tended to be more light-hearted. This episode covered serious concepts that brought a new level of emotion for the show. 


  • Lane Toran (credited as Toran Caudell) as Arnold
    • He is an actor and musician who also voiced King Bob in the TV show “Recess” 
    • He returned for the Hey Arnold Jungle movie as Che, a handsome young man that falls for Olga (Helga’s older sister). 
    • He is also directing and starring in an upcoming film called “Getaway Girls” 
  • Francesca Marie Smith as Helga
    • She also voiced characters in “Recess” including Ashley B, and did various voices for the VeggieTales TV series.
    • Francesca voiced Helga all the way through Hey Arnold’s initial run and even reprises her role in 2017 for The Jungle Movie.
  • Jamil Walker Smith as Gerald
    • After playing Gerald for the run of the show, he went on to have a recurring role in Stargate Universe. He has found steady work as an actor and will also be in the movie “Getaway Girls”
  • Tress MacNeille as Grandma Gertie
    • An incredibly talented voice actor, Tress MacNeille is known for playing Dot in the animaniacs, and has provided voices for The Simpsons and Futurama. She has a recurring role as Daisy Duck in many Disney projects.
  • Dan Castellaneta as Grandpa Phil 
    • Hey Arnold has a lot of ties to the Simpsons, and Dan Castellaneta is one of them. He has been voicing Homer Simpson since 1989
  • Baoan Coleman as Mr. Hyunh
    • He played Mr. Hyunh for 28 episodes of the show
    • He also had a supporting role in Rambo: First Blood Part II, but Hey Arnold was his last acting credit
    • According to IMDB, Baoan Coleman was at the actual fall of Saigon, which is depicted in the episode when Mr. Hyunh hands Mai to a soldier on a helicopter. I can’t find other sources to back this up, but I thought it was interesting to mention
  • Hiep Thi Le as Mai
    • She acted in a few things since Hey Arnold, including the TV movie “Cruel Intentions”
    • She was born in Vietnam and was separated from her family during the war, similar to her character Mai in the show.
  • Vincent Schiavelli as Mr. Bailey
    • A well-known and respected character actor, he also voiced Pigeon Man in another popular episode of Hey Arnold.
    • He played Lazarus in “Bride of Boogedy” which we talked about earlier this year, he was a teacher in the John Cusack movie, “Better of Dead” 

Arnold’s Christmas: The Story

  • The story for Arnold’s Christmas was created by Craig Bartlett, Steve Viksten, and Joe Ansolabehere. Steve Viksten wrote the episode.
  • After names have been drawn for the boarding house Secret Santa, Arnold is distraught to find that he has been given Mr. Hyunh, a member of the boarding house that he knows very little about
    • In this scene, Grandma wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving. This started the gag in the show that Grandma always mixes up the holidays. Watching this with Marci, it confused her about the timeline and made her think that the episode jumped ahead to Christmas shortly after.
  • Desperate to figure out the right gift, Arnold visits Mr. Hyunh and asks him about his life. Mr. Hyunh tells Arnold a harrowing tale about his life in another country, and a war that separated him and his infant daughter. Mr. Hyunh came to the US in search of her, but has yet to find her. 
    • This episode was the first of the show to feature a real life event: the Vietnam. They never explicitly say which war or Mr Hyunh is referring to, but images and key phrases would indicate Vietnam. For example, Mr Hyunh says, “there was a war in the north,” and we see images of him running past a ripped American flag. The war was between North and South Vietnam, and involved the US as we were a principal ally of south Vietnam. 
    • When Saigon fell, helicopters did in fact take refugees out of the city, just like in the show. The government wasn’t liberated until 1995, about 20 years later and Mr Hyunh says it took him 20 years to get out of the country. 
    • This episode is often lauded for “giving kids credit” and focusing on serious subject matter in a children’s TV show, and later on the show mentions Vietnam again when we find out that Gerald’s dad fought in the war as well.
  • Arnold is now inspired to make Mr. Hyunh’s dream of seeing his daughter a reality, and springs into action. Arnold heads to the federal office of information, and he and Gerald beg a man named Mr. Bailey to locate Mr Hyunh’s daughter. Mr. Bailey tells the boys that he would do so, if they finish his Christmas Eve shopping. So, the boys set out to get everything on the list.
    • Mr. Bailey is very likely a reference to George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the famous character played by Jimmy Stewart  
  • Somewhere else in Hillwood, we see Helga trying to find a gift for her secret crush: Arnold. She eavesdrops on the boys and discovers what they are trying to do. The last item on their list is a pair of incredibly rare Nancy Spumoni snow boots that Helga also wants for Christmas. 
    • In the Hey Arnold universe, there’s a character named Dino Spumoni who is their version of Frank Sinatra. In real life, Frank Sinatra had a daughter named Nancy who sang the song, “These Boots are Made for Walking.” The snow boots are an obvious reference to Nancy Sinatra. 
  • After Arnold and Gerald return to Mr. Bailey with all the items except the snow boots, Mr. Bailey refuses to help them (what a terrible person). The boys walk away, feeling dejected.
  • Helga heads home to her own family’s Christmas, and her mother gives her a Christmas gift. They are the Nancy Spumoni snow boots! Helga thanks her mom and runs out into the snow with joy and excitement. She dances around in happiness until she remembers that Arnold needs the snow boots as well. 
    • Up until this point in the episode, Helga has repeatedly said that Christmas is all about presents and that she hopes her parents “didn’t screw up” her gift. When her mom hands her the boots, she tells her that she stood in line for hours to get them. This is especially poignant because Helga has a troubled home life, with parents that are somewhat neglectful and much more caring toward her sister.
  • Helga brings Mr. Bailey the boots and begs him to stay and find Mai. She gives a speech about the true meaning of Christmas, and points out that not only would Mr Hyunh and his daughter not be reunited, but his actions would destroy Arnold’s faith in miracles.
  • On Christmas morning, Arnold is about to apologize to Mr Hyunh for not having a gift, when the doorbell rings and Grandpa lets in Mai. Arnold is blown away, confused as to how this happened and Gerald tells him it must’ve been a Christmas angel.
  • The episode ends with Helga, standing alone in the snow after leading Mai to the boarding house. The image drives home the concept of giving for the sake of giving, and the audience could never question how much Helga cares for Arnold. Never once in the show does she ever mention what she did for Arnold, Mr. Hyunh, and Mai. She thought Arnold was naive to believe in miracles, until she became the miracle herself. 


  • Even though the subject matter is intense, the episode still makes room for laughs. What’s your favorite part of the special? 
  • This special deals with very serious subject matter for a children’s TV show. Do we think that a show today would cover something so intense? 
  • What do we think was the benefit of talking about these issues? 
  • This is an emotional episode for a lot of people! What part hits you in the feels the most?

Thank you Brett Wilson for joining us!  You can see some of his work here; https://www.instagram.com/brettwilsonart/?hl=en




How the Grinch(es) Stole the Case

Hey Cassettes and welcome back to the Christmas Case Diaries! This month we’re focusing on Christmas TV specials, but this episode is EXTRA special because we will be talking about movies as well. The 1960’s was a decade that brought us a lot of classic Christmas specials. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman (1969), and tonight’s topic: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)!



The Origin of Grinch

  • Theodor Suess Geisel, AKA the beloved Dr Suess, first used the word Grinch to describe a bird in his 1953 book Scrambled Eggs Super! The bird was called a Beagle-Beaked-Bald-Headed Grinch.  
  • In 1955 he published a short 32 line illustrated poem in Redbook, which was a woman’s magazine at the time.  The poem was entitled “The Hoobub and the Grinch.” Although this poem does not contain the same Grinch we know and love it, brings about the same issue of commercialism. In the poem the Grinch is able to sell the Hoobub a simple green string by making it sound like it is needed and thus goes on to say that the Grinch is able to sell the Hoobub similar items every day.
  • Finally Suess used Grinch in his hit Christmas book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” which was released in 1957.

Many believe that the Grinch was Dr Suess’s alter ego, even Suess himself.  There were many reasons for this. In a 1957 interview with Redbook he stated “I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noticed a very Grinch-ish countenance in the mirror. It was Seuss! So I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost.”

  • To add to this Suess was 53 when the book was released, the same age as the Grinch and he was also quirky and disliked large crowds.
  • And finally to show favor to the character he even had a Grinch vanity license plate!

Making of

The director of this special was Chuck Jones. You may know Jones because he is a famous  animator, filmmaker, cartoonist, author, artist, and screenwriter.  Most well known for his work in Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, and Tom and Jerry.  He and Suess knew each other due to working together during WWII on the animated propaganda called  Private Snafu. Suess was a writer and Jones an animator. Jones was the one to convince Suess into making an animated short for his How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 

Story drawing by Irv Spector.

*During production however, Phil Roman (one of the animators) said that Suess was only there 3 or 4 times but that he had been there for the storyboard beforehand.

  • In the original book, there are only three colors: black, white, and pink/red. So, where did the iconic green Grinch color come from? Apparently Chuck Jones was inspired to use it after renting cars that were that color. 
  • Dr. Suess felt like the main character more closely resembled a Chuck Jones character than the original Grinch drawings.

Time magazine in 2013 named it one of the top 10 greatest Christmas specials from your childhood, along with a movie we just discussed last episode called A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965. While both of these masterpieces took a lot of money to make, Charlie Brown pales in comparison. It took a little less than $100,000 to create Charlie Brown but Grinch was finally able to garner  $300,000 from an organization called The Foundation for Commercial Banks after pitching to companies such as Kellogg’s and Nestle.  

Not only did Grinch receive funding to make the 30 minute special happen, but CBS paid $315,000 for the right to air it twice on their network; once in 1966 and once in 1967.

The music for the special was done by Albert Hague.

  • Dr. Suess wrote the lyrics to all the songs, including “Fahoo Foraze” which was meant to sound like classical Latin. Apparently it tricked some viewers, and people called to find out the translation. It turns out it was just classic Suessical Gibberish 
  • When Hague later recalled his audition for being able to compose for the special he said, “Afterward, Seuss looked up and said, ‘Anyone who slides an octave on the word Grinch gets the job.’ The whole thing took three minutes,”

Voice Actors

  • Boris Karloff as the Narrator and the Grinch
    • Dr. Suess was concerned that casting Boris Karloff would make the character too scary. But, Chuck Jones chose him after hearing him narrate other works. 
    • Originally, there was no difference between the narration and the speaking voices in the special, so sound editors removed the higher pitches from his voice in post. That is why when The Grinch speaks, he sounds different from the narrator. 
  • June Foray (uncredited) as Cindy Lou Who
  • Dal McKennon (uncredited) as Max
  • Thurl Ravenscroft (uncredited) as the singer of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
    • AKA Tony the Tiger!
    • He was also the voice of Kirby in the Brave Little Toaster!
    • Dr. Suess attempted to fix the fact that he was uncredited by sending letters to every major columnist in America! Well, we know now. 

Grinch (2000)

  • The original special aired on December 15th, 1966! So, why did it take so long for it to get remade? Dr. Suess himself was reluctant to bring his works to the big screen. But after his death, the rights to his stories went to his widow. 
  • This was the first time a Dr. Suess story was turned into a full length feature film
  • Before she signed off on Jim Carrey playing the role of The Grinch, she had to visit him on the set of another movie to see if he was right for the part. 
    • The movie was “Man on the Moon” and Jim Carey was so deep into character that he had to do an impression of himself playing the Grinch
  • Directed by Ron Howard, he not only wanted it to be an adaptation of the book, but an adaptation of the original special as well. This is why he kept The Grinch’s green color, even though the character is white in the book. 
  • The movie did not receive a lot of critical acclaim, some believed the story and themes were too adult for a movie marketed to kids.
    • Jim Carey himself seemed to regret the amount of adult jokes in the script and wished that he had done more to stop them.
    • He maintains that all of his jokes were age-appropriate, and Ron Howard even removed some even raunchier jokes from the script.
  • What the critics did like was Jim Carey’s performance as The Grinch as well as the beautiful film score by the late James Horner.


This movie included many stars but here are just a few…

  • Jim Carrey as the Grinch
    • His costume was incredibly uncomfortable, including the yellow contacts that he was forced to wear. Apparently he even spoke with a former CIA agent about coping mechanisms for torture, as the suit was THAT uncomfortable and took an hour to take off.
    • He improvised a lot of lines in the movie, “Dinner with me, I can’t cancel that again!” 
  • Josh Ryan Evans as the young Grinch
  • Christine Baranski as Martha May
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Mayor Augustus Maywho
  • Molly Shannon as the mother Betty Lou Who
  • Bill Irwin as father Lou Lou Who
  • Taylor Momsen as the little girl Cindy Lou Who
  • With Anthony Hopkins as the Narrator

Grinch (2018)

Where the 2000 Grinch was too adult for children, the 2018 film fixed that issue. This movie is meant to appeal to children, with some older jokes and references. 

Voices of

  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Grinch
  • Cameron Seely as Cindy Lou Who
  • Rashida Jones as Donna Who
  • Tristan O’Hare as Groopert
  • Keenan Thompson as Mr. Bricklebaum
  • Sam Lavagnino as Ozzy
  • Ramone Hamilton as Axl
  • Angela Lansbury as Mayor McGerkle
  • Scarlett Estevez as Izzy
  • With Pharrell Williams as the Narrator






This one has great pre-production and production artwork





The Case of a Charlie Brown Christmas

 Hey Cassettes, welcome to season 3! We’re starting the season off strong with episodes about some of our favorite Christmas specials. So for our first episode, we are going to focus on one of the oldest TV specials airing today: A Charlie Brown Christmas! Now, we say ONE of the first, because Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol was THE first animated Christmas special in 1962. 


Charles Shultz and The Peanuts

  • Before we discuss this special, we have to talk about the history of Charlie Brown, and where The Peanuts came from. 
  • The Peanuts comic strip was first published in the late 1940’s, and was originally called “Li’l Folks” 
  • It was created by Charles Shultz, and starred Charlie Brown. The original strip included a random cast of unnamed characters. It wasn’t until the strip was renamed in 1950, that Shultz created a gang of regular characters. 
  • After Shultz’s comic strip was picked up by the United Feature Syndicate, an editor changed the name to, “Peanuts” because “Li’l Folks” was too similar to two other comic strips at the time.
    • Shultz hated the name, and wanted to keep the original. He felt that calling it “Peanuts” made it seem insignificant. He told TIME magazine this 15 years later.
    • Although Shultz hated the name, he worked on it until his death in 2000. 
  • At first, the strip ran in only 7 newspapers and wasn’t an instant hit. By the end of the 1950’s, it appeared in hundreds of papers across America, and The Peanuts were internationally known. It was in the 1960’s, however, when Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang peaked in popularity. 
    • Charlie Brown is an every-man character, facing easily relatable problems. Shultz modeled him after himself, and because of that, the rest of the world could see themselves in Charlie Brown too. 
    • The 1960’s was a tumultuous decade, filled with change. Not only did The Peanuts leave their mark on the world, but the comic strip changed with the times. The character Franklin was added after the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and the bird Woodstock was named after the famous music festival.
  • At the height of its popularity in 1965, CBS gave The Peanuts their very own TV special.


  • A Charlie Brown Christmas follows the Peanuts gang as they prepare for Christmas. Charlie Brown finds himself depressed. At the suggestions of Lucy, he decides to get involved in the festivities by directing the school play. Bothered by the commercialism of the holiday, Charlie Brown is determined to find the true meaning of Christmas. 

Making A Charlie Brown Christmas

  • We already know that The Peanuts were very popular in the 1960’s, so much so, that a TV producer named Lee Mendelson wanted to make a documentary about the success of the comic strip.
  • Charles Shultz agreed to work on the project, and he asked an animator named Bill Melendez to help out with the brief animated segments of the special. The rest of the documentary would be live-action. 
  • A talented and well-respected jazz musician named Vince Guaraldi wrote original music for the documentary as well. 
  • At the time, the special was rejected, but it brought together the team that would later make A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was called, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” 
  • In April of 1965, the McCann Erickson Agency called Mendelson, wondering if they had any ideas for a Peanuts Christmas special. Mendelson said yes, even though he had no special in mind. The thing was, Coca-Cola was interested in buying such a special if it existed, and they needed to see a draft of it in just a few days. Lee Mendelson called Charles Shultz and told him that he just sold “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Shultz responded with, “What is that?” And then the men had an outline done in one day.
      • When Coca-Cola agreed to buy the special, they asked for an early December release. The men had only 6 months to put a special together. 
  • Shultz wanted the special to focus on “The True Meaning of Christmas,” and added elements from Christmases he spent as a child in Minnesota. For example, there are lots of scenes that feature snow and even ice skating.
    • He also came up with the idea for the iconic tree in the special after reading “The Fir Tree” by Hans Christian Anderson. Schultz thought it would be interesting if there was a tree in the special that embodied the spirit of Charlie Brown. 
  • As animation began, it was clear that Charlie Brown and the gang were very limited in their movement. Animating flat characters can be very challenging, but Snoopy was the exception. If you notice during the special, Snoopy has the most action, and it’s because he was much more fun to animate. 
    • When you consider how the animation was done, it’s impressive that Melendez and his team got it done in so little time. It required a pencil drawing, followed by an inking and painting process onto a cell. The cell was then placed onto a painted backdrop. The drawings totaled to 13,000.
  • Lee Mendelson, the producer, invited Vince Guaraldi back to score the special. They were able to include the jazzy, “Linus and Lucy” written for the documentary previously mentioned, and Guaraldi wrote new songs that were performed by his jazz trio.
    • The most famous of these is, “Christmas Time is Here.” Mendelson ended up writing the lyrics to the song himself, after he had trouble finding a lyricist. The song is now considered a Christmas staple, and is often played on the radio during the holiday season.
    • Mendelson’s son and his 6th grade class performed the song.
    • The song is a perfect blend of melancholy music and joyful lyrics. It captures the sad spirit that Charlie Brown holds throughout most of the special, mixed with the excitement of being a child at Christmas 
    • The team also brought in a children’s choir to perform, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” for a pivotal scene in the special. The mixture of traditional Christmas carols and jazz is one of the aspects of the special that made it so interesting. 


  • Peter Robbins was the eight-year-old boy chosen to play Charlie Brown. His casting was one of the most difficult, because they needed to find a child’s voice that sounded “blah” 
    • At the time, he was a child actor who had done parts in The Munsters, Rawhide, and The Joey Bishop Show
    • He went on to play Charlie Brown for several years afterward in 6 other specials and has since retired from acting
  • Christopher Shea played Linus, whose voice was meant to sound sophisticated, yet innocent. 
    • This was his first acting role at age 7, and he continued to play Linus in four more specials. Shea also had a recurring role on the TV series Shane (1966) 
    • He passed away at the age of 52 in 2010.
  • Kathy Steinburg played Sally, Charlie’s younger sister. She was the youngest member of the cast, and did not know how to read. So, producers fed her one line at a time for her to deliver. 
  • Tracy Stratford played Lucy and was 10 years old at the time. Producers were impressed by her professionalism.
    • She had a role in two episodes of The Twilight Zone, one of them being “Living Doll,” which is one of the most famous episodes of the series. It features a murderous doll named “Talky Tina” 
    • This was her only appearance as Lucy Van Pelt, because her voice changed shortly after the animation was finished on the project.
  • Karen Mendelson played Patty. Patty was an original member of the Peanuts gang, but was later phased out after the introduction of “Peppermint Patty.” 
  • The rest of the cast was played by children in Mendelson’s own neighborhood, and he recalled the recording session to be chaotic. 


  • Early on in the writing process, Lee Mendelson tried to convince Charles Schultz to leave out the religious references in the special. Schultz reportedly replied, “If we don’t do it, who will?” 
    • They went as far as to make Linus’ speech the climax of the special, making it impossible to cut out, so the special had to air with the religious message in tact.
  • No laugh track, authentic child voices, and a religious message meant that this special broke a lot of 1960’s TV rules. 
  • Mendelson, Melendez, and the CBS executives viewed the special days before its release and thought it was boring. They thought the jazz music seemed out of place, and the animation was underwhelming. But, there was one thing working for it: it was scheduled to premier in just a few days and they had to deliver on what they promised. If they had finished the special any sooner, CBS may have made the decision to cut it completely. 
    • I read that one of the animators, Ed Levitt (who had worked on Bambi and Fantasia) tried to cheer Melendez up by saying that it was the best special he would ever make, and that people would be watching it in 100 years
  • CBS aired the special on December 9th, 1965 to an estimated 15 million viewers. As reviews came in, it received unanimous critical acclaim! The network contacted the producers and ordered more specials immediately. 
    • Just think, if they hadn’t aired this or if it did fail, we wouldn’t have any of the other Charlie Brown specials that we have today. Imagine a world without It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
    • The special won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program and the prestigious Peabody award.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas is considered to be an American Christmas tradition, being one of the most popular specials to air every year. Today, it is the second longest-running Christmas special on US network TV. Was Ed Levitt correct? Will people still be watching it in 2065? All we know is that it’s been 54 years, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. 







The Case of The Miracle on 34th Street

Happy Thanksgiving! Today we give thanks. We understand that this holiday has a controversial past, and understand why some choose not to celebrate it. But, we think it’s always good to take a chance to give thanks whenever possible. So, thank you. 


Today is a big holiday, and for many it’s spent traveling to family. That’s why we’re releasing an episode today! For anyone that might need a small escape from family time. 

There are actually A LOT of great movies to watch for Thanksgiving! Each year, we choose to watch Miracle on 34th Street. 

  • Miracle on 34th Street came out in 1947. It begins on Thanksgiving Day, and ends on Christmas, making it the perfect film to bridge the gap between the two holidays. It features two big companies: Macy’s and Gimbels, and showcases the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
  • Before we get into the film, let’s talk about the tradition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! 

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

    • The flagship Macy’s store in Manhattan is located on 34th street, hence the name of the film! 
    • It was the world’s largest store and boasted 1 million square feet of space. Remember: this was the roaring 20’s
    • To celebrate the store, RH Macy decided to throw New York city a parade for Christmas, and they chose Thanksgiving Day
      • The first parade was in 1924, and it was called The Macy’s Christmas Parade
      • There were three floats pulled by horses, 4 bands, and zoo animals including camels, donkeys, elephants, and goats
      • Santa Claus has always been an important component of the parade, arriving last and bringing in the Christmas season
  • In 1927, it was renamed The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and giant balloons replaced the zoo animals as a main attraction. This is now what the parade is known for. 
  • The balloons featured famous cartoon characters, one of the first was Felix the Cat
    • There have been disputes about this, saying that Felix the Cat didn’t appear in the parade until 1931.
  • The oldest Thanksgiving Day parade is held every year in Philadelphia! It was put on by the rival store Gimbels, which is featured in Miracle on 34th Street. 
  • Macy’s would release the balloons at the conclusion of the parade, and would give out a 100$ reward for returned balloons.
    • In 1932, they stopped the practice after it became too dangerous! People would try to catch the balloons in the air, and this became a hazard. 
  • Since its beginning, the parade has only missed three years! The war caused a shortage of helium and rubber. When it returned in 1945, it was the first time the parade was broadcast on TV!
  • In its 93 years of presentation, the parade has increased in size, and has changed routes. This year: there will be 26 floats, 56 balloons, and 11 bands. 

The Plot

  • When Doris Walker discovers that the man hired to play Santa in the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is drunk, she asks a kind old man to take his place. The new Santa is a success, and Macy’s hires him to be their department Santa for the season. 
  • Kris Kringle, as he calls himself, is not only a hit with the children, but also with adult customers. He truly embodies the spirit of Christmas by helping them buy gifts, sending them to other stores to find them. 
  • This new policy becomes a popular gimmick, and things are going great for Macy’s! 
  • It captures the attention of the store that Kris believes that he himself is the real Santa Claus. This issue gets overlooked until Kris assaults the resident psychologist with his umbrella, causing him to get sent to an institution. 
  • All this leads to a public hearing, where Kris’s lawyer Fred Gailey, must defend him by proving that he is indeed the real Santa Claus. 

Making of

  • Directed by George Seaton, the movie was shot during a bitter New York winter that caused equipment to freeze. 
  • The story was written by Valentine Davies and George Seaton
    • Davies got the idea while he was shopping for his wife. He wondered what the real Santa Claus would think of all the commercialism.
  • The music was done by legendary composer Alfred Newman.


  • Maureen O’Hara as Doris Walker
  • Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle
    • Won best supporting actor Oscar for the role 
  • John Payne as Fred Gailey
  • Natalie Wood as Susan Walker


  • The movie won Oscars for screenplay & best original story
  • In the untranslated dialogue with the Dutch girl, Santa Claus asks the child what she wants for Christmas. She says she wants nothing, telling Santa she got her gift by being adopted by her new mother.
  • According to Natalie Wood’s biographer, she believed he really was Santa Claus
  • Edmund Gwenn actually played Santa in the 1946 Macy’s parade!