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Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade 2017: What time, what channel, which balloons will be there?

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade has signaled the start of the holiday season for nearly 100 years. It draws 3 million people in person in New York City, and more than 50 million on television. 

There are stars who sing and dance, marching bands and balloons. Big balloons.

This year’s version of the parade is set to go off Thursday in New York City with a cast of more than 8,000.

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s parade.

What time does it start?

9 a.m. ET. It is scheduled to last until noon.

What channel is it on?

The parade is broadcast on NBC.

How long is the parade route?

2.5 miles

What is the parade route?

The parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan. It moves south on Central Park West, and at Columbus Circle, it turns east onto Central Park South. When the parade reaches 6th Avenue, it turns south on to 34th Street. At 34th Street it turns west to Macy's Herald Square and ends at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.

When was the first Macy's Thanksgiving day parade?

The first parade was held on Christmas in 1924.

Which balloons will we see this year?

Angry Birds’ Red

Ice Age’s Scrat and his Acorn

Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger

Sinclair’s Dino

Hello Kitty

Pillsbury the Doughboy

Ronald McDonald

Trolls

SpongeBob SquarePants

Pikachu

The Elf on the Shelf

Charlie Brown

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Super Wings’ Jett

Paw Patrol’s Chase

The Grinch

Frozen’s Olaf

Novelty Balloons

Charlie, Kit & C.J. Holiday Elves

Harold the Policeman

Yellow Star

Pumpkins

Harold the Baseball Player

Rex the Happy Dragon

Cloe the Clown

Christmas String of Lights

Candy Cane

Blue Ornament

Red and Gold Macy’s Star

What about the floats?

There will be 31 floats in the parade.

Who is performing?

Gwen Stefani

98 Degrees

Sara Evans

Andra Day

Cam

Common

Dustin Lynch

Wyclef Jean

Goo Goo Dolls

Smokey Robinson

Kat Graham

The Radio City Rockettes

Olivia Holt

JoJo Siwa

Andy Grammer

Miss America Cara Mund

Leslie Odom Jr.

Padma Lakshmi

Tom Colicchio

Angelica Hale

Bebe Rexha

Lauren Alaina

Nicky Jam

Sabrina Carpenter

Patti LaBelle

Marching Bands

There are 12 marching bands in the parade. They are:

Nation Ford High School Band

West Harrison High School

NYPD Marching Band

U.S. Air Force

Colony High School Band

Ohio University Marching Band

Rockford High School Marching Band

Macy’s Great American Marching Band

Prairie View A&M Marching Storm

Rosemount High School Marching Band

Davis High School Marching Band

Trumbull High School

Parade History

According to the New York Tourist Commission, the inaugural Macy's Day Parade took place on Christmas 1924 and had an audience of 250,000 people. There were no giant balloons until 1927 when Felix the Cat showed up. The parade was first broadcast on radio in 1932.

The Balloons

The balloons are filled with 12,000 cubic feet of helium. They are inflated the day before Thanksgiving at the American Museum of National History from 3 p.m. -10 p.m.

Some numbers

  • On average, 300 bands a year apply for the 12 slots in the parade
  • Those handling the balloons, 30 to 100 of them for each balloon, are volunteers.
  • It  takes 15 minutes to deflate the balloon.

 

 

Mama June proves she kept her weight loss promise 7 months later

Seven months after losing 300 pounds on “Mama June: From Not to Hot,” Mama June Shannon is here to prove she’s still keeping the weight off!

>> Read more trending news

The 38-year-old reality star was spotted out and about in Atlanta this week while Christmas shopping and was happy to show off her slim figure. Dressed in athletic wear leggings and a long-sleeved gray shirt, she was all smiles while proving she’s kept her weight loss promise.

“I can promise you I’m never going back to that size. I’m happy where I’m at,” Shannon told PEOPLE back in April after she underwent weight loss surgery and drastically changed her diet and exercise routine, going from 460 pounds to a size 4.

At the very beginning of her weight loss journey, she wanted to drop the pounds to make her ex Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson jealous at his then-upcoming wedding to his new love. However, over time it became much more than that.

“My goal when I first started this weight loss journey was to make Sugar Bear kind of jealous,” she said. “But it’s no longer about revenge. Doing all the surgeries really took a toll on me -- not just physically, but emotionally. I feel like [I’m] becoming the person on the outside that I always felt like [I was] on the inside.”

When she made her big debut after shedding the weight, her daughter and “Toddlers & Tiaras” star Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, said, “She looks great. I’m really proud of her.”

While Shannon continues to drop jaws whenever she updates fans on how she’s been keeping up her weight loss, she barely turns heads back at home.

“It’s kind of crazy. A lot of people don’t recognize who I am until I talk,” she said. “It’s kind of like I’m in my own disguise. Normally when I walk through the streets, everybody notices me, and now it’s like nobody [does].”

However, she may not slip under the radar for much longer, because she’s headed back to your television screens in January for “Mama June: From Not to Hot” Season 2:

Joe Barton apologizes for graphic photo circulating online

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, issued an apology Wednesday after a sexually explicit photo of him made the rounds on social media.

>> Read more trending news

Barton reportedly sent the photo to a woman he was involved with after he and his now ex-wife had separated.

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” he said, according to The Texas Tribune. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”

Barton, who recently announced he would run for re-election in 2018, said through a spokeswoman that he has no plans of resigning.

Thick dust from Georgia Dome implosion impacting residents, businesses

The Georgia Dome implosion Monday morning in downtown Atlanta caused a massive dust cloud that settled over the area, covering nearby cars and buildings in a thick coat of dirt and grime.

>> Read more trending news

It also left some city residents worried about the impact of the particle pollution on their health. 

Neighbors with asthma, allergies and bronchitis have been taking extra medicine and staying inside to avoid breathing in the dust, according to WSB-TV. The dust has also made an impact on nearby businesses, such as window and car-washers. 

Gregory Price with 70s Car Wash told the TV station that cars have been coming in caked in the dust, which he described as a hard, clay-like consistency that’s difficult to get off. 

“It usually takes about an extra 20 or 30 minutes because you got to rinse it all off,” Price said. 

He wasn’t the only one who noticed the difference. A window washer said he’s never seen dust so thick; a woman claimed the soot is causing her congestion, watery eyes and difficulty breathing.

>> Related: Goodbye, Georgia Dome – thanks for the memories!

The Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association has asked the demolition company for car wash vouchers, according to WSB-TV. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority had not responded to the station’s request for comment Tuesday. 

Progress slow at SpaceX’s planned spaceport

More than three years ago, SpaceX founder Elon Musk gathered with state leaders at this remote South Texas beach to trumpet it as the future location of the world’s first commercial spaceport. 

But so far, the only liftoffs from the shifting dunes are being achieved by seagulls and pelicans.

SpaceX — the Hawthorne, Calif., company started by Musk with the aim of reducing the cost of space travel and one day facilitating the colonization of Mars — still counts the Boca Chica site in its plans. The company installed two large tracking antennas at the location this year, perhaps the most tangible indication yet of its intended purpose as a launch point for commercial satellites and, eventually, exploration of the solar system.

But progress on the Boca Chica facility — in which Musk vowed SpaceX would invest $100 million and initially predicted could be sending up rockets by late 2016 — has been slower than either SpaceX or state officials envisioned when it was announced in 2014.

The state has pledged a total of $15.3 million in incentives to the project, although SpaceX has returned a small portion of the state money it has received so far because it hasn’t met early job-creation goals.

The slower rate of progress is partly the result of difficulties building on the beach after bedrock turned out to be deeper than expected and the water table turned out to be higher than expected. That prompted SpaceX to bring in hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of new soil to stabilize the site to support future structures. Other slowdowns have been caused by the company’s focus on more pressing issues after one of its rockets exploded in 2015 shortly after liftoff from a leased launch pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and another exploded on the pad in 2016, temporarily grounding some of SpaceX’s commercial operations both times.

Most recently, SpaceX has said the first blast-off from Boca Chica could take place by the end of 2018. Spokesman James Gleeson reiterated that goal in a recent interview — although he added a caveat.

“SpaceX has continued to make progress on building the first-ever commercial spaceport in South Texas while also overcoming a number of challenges in the last few years,” Gleeson said. “We continue to target late 2018 but we’re reviewing our progress in South Texas and SpaceX will turn the launch complex online as soon as it’s ready.”

Progress has been slow at the future commercial spaceport, but the company still counts it in its plans. Work on the spaceport is expected to pick up in early 2018, SpaceX has said.

Boca Chica is in Cameron County, about 20 miles east of Brownsville at the southernmost tip of Texas, where Texas Highway 4 dead-ends into the Gulf of Mexico. A small housing development, called Boca Chica Village, is nearby.

According to state documents obtained by the American-Statesman through an open-records request, the deadline for the Boca Chica spaceport to become operational or potentially lose more of the state incentive money pledged to it is less than a year away — on Sept. 30, 2018. The agreement also requires that 120 people be employed by the facility by the end of this year, 180 by the end of 2018 and 300 by the end of 2024.

Only a handful of people were working at the location during a recent visit by the American-Statesman, however, and there was little to distinguish it amid the windswept landscape as the future site of a cutting-edge launching point for space exploration.

Aside from the two tracking antennas brought in this year — which aren’t yet operational — the most notable structure was a large platform of compacted soil, set off by fencing and a “SpaceX Launch Site” sign. Across the highway, the metal framework of what appeared to be a storage building was being erected around some heavy equipment.

‘Par for the course’

The spaceport has been viewed by state and local Cameron County leaders as the linchpin to establishing South Texas as a hub for an emerging private U.S. space industry in an era of NASA budget cuts, and former Gov. Rick Perry was on hand for the ground-breaking ceremony in September 2014. At the time, the Brownsville Economic Development Corp. estimated SpaceX would create 500 jobs over 10 years with an annual payroll of more than $51 million.

Musk — a billionaire serial entrepreneur who also started electric-car maker Tesla and is known for bold statements and futuristic pronouncements — said during the groundbreaking that rockets launched from Boca Chica would carry commercial satellites at first but eventually could be critical to establishing a human presence on Mars. SpaceX’s formal name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

“It could very well be that the first person that departs for another planet will depart from this location,” Musk said at the time.

The rate of progress at Boca Chica since then isn’t necessarily a surprise to some SpaceX observers, however, because both the company and Musk have reputations in the aerospace industry for issuing ambitious timetables that often are revised.

“Being behind schedule is kind of par for the course for SpaceX,” said Bill Ostrove, primary space analyst for Forecast International. “They lay out very aggressive plans in terms of time schedules that are very rarely if ever met. There’s kind of an expectation that anytime SpaceX gives you a date, you always have to assume that there is going to be a few years of delay.”

Still, Musk does have a track record of eventually accomplishing many of the goals he sets — such as when SpaceX made history this year by relaunching into orbit and then successfully landing a booster rocket that it had flown before. The feat marked a milestone because the company views reusable rockets as the key to lowering the cost of space flight.

“I wouldn’t doubt (Musk) in the end,” Ostrove said, although he said he hadn’t heard anything specifically about SpaceX’s latest Boca Chica plans.

Texas beat out Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico to win the future spaceport. The state pledged $2.3 million from the jobs-focused Texas Enterprise Fund and $13 million from another state incentive fund called the Spaceport Trust Fund, in addition to millions more in various tax incentives committed by local governments nearby the proposed launch site. SpaceX received its first payment from the state’s spaceport fund — routed through the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. — this year, totaling $2.6 million and intended to help pay for infrastructure, such as the tracking antennas.

To date, SpaceX has paid back about $81,000 of the $400,000 in incentives money it initially received from the Texas Enterprise Fund because it didn’t meet hiring goals for either 2015 or 2016. Under the incentives agreement with the state, the company was supposed to have created 60 full-time jobs related to the site by the end of last year, but it had created only 10, according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman.

Support for the project continues to be solid among state leaders and local Cameron County officials, however.

“The governor’s office remains confident Brownsville will be home to the launch of a new SpaceX venture,” said Ciara Matthews, a spokeswoman for Gov. Greg Abbott. “SpaceX has continually maintained a partnership of transparency with the state of Texas, and the governor’s office continues to work with the company to ensure a successful project and full compliance with their (Texas Enterprise Fund) agreement.”

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. said he doesn’t consider the spaceport behind schedule because his understanding of SpaceX’s plans since he took office in November last year has been that the first launch wouldn’t take place until late 2018.

But Treviño also said he wasn’t aware that SpaceX had fallen short of its hiring targets, noting that Cameron County isn’t charged with monitoring job creation at the site since the company’s job-related incentives come from the state. Cameron County has granted a $1.8 million, 10-year property-tax abatement to SpaceX, he said.

“Obviously, (the hiring shortfall) is a slowdown and a little bit of a delay, but I haven’t heard anything (else) that would indicate the project is in a slowdown or is a project that is not going to come to fruition,” Treviño said. “We are being told (by SpaceX) that the plan and the project is still moving forward.”

He said he’s confident “we are going to see launches taking place from Cameron County” eventually.

“It’s really exciting,” Treviño said. “Obviously, we would love to see more tangible examples of the progress, but I’m sure we will.”

According to SpaceX, he and others won’t have to wait much longer for an increase in activity at the future spaceport. The recently installed antennas at Boca Chica are expected to be operational next year — although they’ll initially track flights blasting off from elsewhere — and the company also indicated development of the overall launch complex should pick up.

“Even as our teams worked to modernize and repair our launch complexes in Florida so that we could reliably return to flight for our customers, SpaceX invested $14 million into the South Texas project,” said Gleeson, the company’s spokesman.

“Now, with our launch construction projects in Florida wrapping up by early 2018, SpaceX will be able to turn more attention to our work in South Texas,” he said.

Pastor of three young children found dead day before Thanksgiving

Tennessee authorities are investigating the death Wednesday morning of a Memphis pastor .

>> Read more trending news

Quentin Barlow, 36, was found dead in his home on the day before Thanksgiving from unknown causes.

Barlow’s cousin, Samantha Westbrook, said she received the bad news in a phone call from her cousin.

“We’re grieving, we’re hurting, but our faith and trust remains in the Lord,” Westbrook said. “That’s all we know to do at a time like this. It hurts.”

Police had crime scene tape up at Barlow’s home as family members converged on the scene.

Westbrook said police do not suspect foul play at this time.

“We feel like Jobe,” she said. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.”

It’s  a sad holiday for the family.

Barlow leaves behind a wife and three young children, including a month old baby.

“I’m just shocked,” Westbrook said. “We’re all just shocked, my entire family.”

>> Related: Young woman vanishes after online date, family fears the worst

Police are still looking into the cause of death. The family does not have any funeral arrangements made at this time.

 

Writer Emily Lindin closes her Twitter after sexist tweets

Teen Vogue’s Emily Lindin has more than 23,000 followers on Twitter but, unless you’re in that crowd, you won’t be seeing her tweets any time soon. On Tuesday night, Lindin locked down her account after a wildly unpopular tweet earned her the scorn of what seems like just about all of social media. And that’s a lot of scorn.

>> Read more trending news

Lindin wrote: “Here’s an unpopular opinion: I’m actually not at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations.” When the backlash ensued, the writer tried to justify her position, writing “false allegations VERY rarely happen, so even bringing it up borders on a derailment tactic. It’s a microscopic risk in comparison to the issue at hand (worldwide, systemic oppression of half the population).”

Lindin then declared: “The benefit of all of us getting to finally tell the truth + the impact on victims FAR outweigh the loss of any one man’s reputation,” and added, “If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.”

Critics lined up to criticize her, with CNN’s Jake Tapper referencing “To Kill a Mockingbird,” in which a character with high moral standards champions above a prejudiced town.

He also hit back on Lindin after her response, saying that her point of view is “immoral” and it’s not a price that she will pay.

Donald Trump Jr. also weighed in on the controversy.

While she claims that she’s a columnist Teen Vogue, according to her bio on the magazine’s website, she hasn’t written since mid-July. Rare has reached out to Conde Nast, the company that owns Teen Vogue, asking for a comment. At the time of publication, Rare has not heard back.

In addition to her work at the magazine, Linden has produced “Unslut,” which is a documentary about combating “slut-shaming” and sexual bullying in schools. According to her bio on the film’s website, she has also written for a number of other outlets including “The Daily Dot” and “Glamour UK” and did a piece entitled “Let’s Talk about Sex with our Children” for the popular blog “Scary Mommy.”

Linden’s remarks come as an avalanche of sexual harassment claims are leveled against powerful men. The floodgates burst when Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexually harassing scores of women but the allegations have since been leveled against powerful men in Washington and journalism.

Some critics have also warned about painting sexual predators with a broad brush; Bari Weiss of the New York Times posited that there’s cause to be disturbed by the “moral flattening” that’s going on.

Just for reference, here’s a clip of Emily Linden and Amber Rose on the popular show “The Doctors” in which they talk about sexual bullying.

Not everyone’s happy that the Girl Scouts now say girls 'don’t owe anyone a hug'

A new consent initiative from the Girl Scouts of America is drawing the fire of people who say the organization has gone too far and assumed too much about the long-term ramifications of the behavior of girls at a young age.

>> Read more trending news

“Holidays and family get-togethers are a time for yummy food, sweet traditions, funny stories, and lots and lots of love,” begins the post, entitled “Reminder: She doesn’t owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays.”

>> Related: Girl Scouts say not to force your kids to hug relatives this holiday season

“But they could, without you even realizing it, also be a time when your daughter gets the wrong idea about consent and physical affection,” the post continues. At its core, it’s about learning behavior in little girls that might come back to bite later and granting little girls autonomy, the organization says:

Telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she ‘owes’ another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.

The Girl Scouts encourages families to “give your girl the space to decide when and how she wants to show affection.” It says that girls who want to show affection are more than welcome to, adding that “many children may naturally want to hug and kiss family members, friends, and neighbors, and that’s lovely—but if your daughter is reticent, don’t force her.”

The Girl Scouts post added: “Of course, this doesn’t give her license to be rude!”

In a statement provided to ABC News, the Girl Scouts confirms that the post was published in part because of the avalanche of sexual assault stories coming out about men in politics, media, Hollywood and more.

“Given our expertise in healthy relationship development for girls, and in light of recent news stories about sexual harassment, we are proud to provide girls’ parents and caregivers with age-appropriate guidance to use when discussing this sensitive matter and other challenging topics, should they wish to do so,” the organization told ABC.

Parents and others commenting on a Facebook post about the initiative were split.

One Facebook user wrote “No girl is going to seriously think she has to get physical with a guy to be polite, just because she had to give Aunt Betty a hug at Christmas when she was little.” In a response, one user wrote“Actually some do. that’s the point,” while a second responded: “Children are condition[ed] to give and receive affection, even if they don’t consent to it. After years of this, it becomes difficult to say no to those affections later because they are told they have to do what the other person wants … It’s important to let children have autonomy and a say over their body. They get used to being able to say no, so they can say it later in life when it’s important.”

Woman helps raise more than $40,000 for homeless veteran who gave her his last $20

A New Jersey woman has helped raise more than $44,000 for a homeless man who helped her when she was in a time of need. 

>> Read more trending news 

Kate McClure was driving on I-95 in Philadelphia recently when her car ran out of gas. According to PhillyVoice.com, McClure got out of her car to walk to a gas station when she was approached by a homeless man, identified only as Johnny. Johnny told McClure to get back in her car and lock the door. He later returned to the vehicle with a can of gas. He had purchased the gas with what little money he had. 

McClure, who was in town to visit a friend, didn’t have anything to give to repay Johnny at the time, so she told him she would return. 

She kept her word.

According to a post online, McClure says she returned to visit Johnny, 34, at his spot by the side of the interstate with clothes, food and money. Each time, Johnny showed gratefulness and generosity.

“One day, I stopped to see him and had a few things in a bag to give him, one of which was a box of cereal bars so he could have something that he could carry around and eat,” McClure wrote. “He was very appreciative as usual and the first thing he said was, ‘Do you want one?’ Another time I dropped off (two) Wawa gift cards and a case of water. The first words that came out of his mouth were, ‘I can’t wait to show the guys’ -- there are (two) others he hangs out with, and they all take care of each other.”

McClure still felt compelled to do more for Johnny, so she created a GoFundMe account, hoping to raise $10,000 to help get Johnny a car, an apartment and some materials and amenities. 

In less than two weeks, McClure raised more than $44,000.

“With the money, I would like to get him first and last month’s rent at an apartment, a reliable vehicle and 4-6 months worth of expenses,” McClure wrote. “He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal. (I) truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break.”

Johnny told PhillyVoice.com that he was once a licensed paramedic and also served in the Marine Corps. He said he moved to Philadelphia last year with plans to start a new job, but when things fell through, he became homeless. 

He says now he wants to get a job at the Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and hopes to one day become recertified as a paramedic.

“(This) changes my life,” he said.

Extra cinnamon may be the secret to weight loss this holiday season

If you're looking to shed a few pounds, you may want to go heavier on the cinnamon this holiday season.

>> Read more trending news

New research from scientists at the University of Michigan (or U of M) revealed that cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil that gives the spice its flavor, appears to have an anti-obesity effect, Newsweek reported.

The study follows previous research, which showed that cinnamaldehyde protects mice from obesity and hypoglycemia. Scientists at U of M wanted to better understand why this is, so they tested the cinnamon extract on human and mice fat cells.

>> Related: 10 ways to avoid overeating during the holidays

"Scientists were finding that this compound affected metabolism," Jun Wu, an assistant U of M professor of molecular and integrative physiology who oversaw the study, told Medical Xpress.

"So we wanted to figure out how—what pathway might be involved, what it looked like in mice and what it looked like in human cells.”

>> Related: Weight Watchers debuts diet wine to toast the holidays

Published in the December issue of of the journal "Metabolism", the findings show that cinnamaldehyde acts directly on fat cells, or adipocytes, causing them to burn energy through a process known as thermogenesis. Overall metabolic health is improved as a result, and fat is burned.

For the study, Wu and her team tested the cinnamon oil on a range of subjects, with different ages, body types and ethnicities. They noted that fat cells treated with cinnamaldehyde resulted in the expression of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism.

>> Related: Want to lose more weight? Ditch your diet for a couple of weeks, study suggests

Normally, adipocytes store energy as lipids, which is beneficial when you go without meals for an extended period of time. Essentially, this fat can be used by the body for energy, instead of food. In cold temperatures, adipocytes are also induced to transform stored energy into heat.

"It's only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem," Wu explained. "Throughout evolution, the opposite—energy deficiency—has been the problem. So any energy-consuming process usually turns off the moment the body doesn't need it."

>> Related: 6 of the best apps to track your eating

In modern society, where food is generally abundant and a sedentary lifestyle is normal for many, our bodies instinctively store fat even though it's not necessary. This can lead to weight gain and obesity, especially when a person is inactive and consumes fatty foods.

However, the results of this new study suggest that cinnamaldehyde may be one way of making this excess fats burn quicker.

Read more here.

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