Storr Tractor Company of Branchburg, New Jersey, owned by Mary Lou DesChamps, has been working with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for more than nine years. Every year, they supply around 45 Toro Workman Mid-Duty utility vehicles for use as the main anchor vehicles for all the balloons and balloonicles in the parade.

Transportation Challenges

Hauling more than 40 Utility Vehicles is an enormous task. Storr provides between six and eight Workman Utility Vehicles for training events taking place in September and October and for Press Day, which usually falls on the first weekend in November. The remaining vehicles, a mix of Workman MDX and Workman MDE Mid-Duty Utility Vehicles, are brought into New York City early Wednesday morning. Even with a 48’ tractor-trailer, 24’ and 28’ rollback trailers and a 24’ box truck, two trips are required to transport all of the vehicles.

Getting there is only half the battle. “We never know in advance how the street is going to be cordoned off, what other vehicles (school buses for example,) we’ll have to joust with,” says Ken Indyk, Sales Director at Storr Tractor Company. “And, of course, it’s important that we’re careful around pedestrians.”

 

Groundwork

Once all of the vehicles have been moved into New York City, crews begin inflating balloons and balloonicles beginning mid-day Wednesday. It takes four super-tankers of helium to fill the balloons and hundreds of sand bags to secure them. Once inflated, the balloons are secured to two Workman vehicles, one directly under the balloon and another at a 45-degree angle behind. Each Workman is weighted down with 600 pounds of sandbags and equipped with custom-fit “tailor boards” that secure the balloons to the vehicles, which act as a safety anchor point aiding the balloon handlers on the ground. “The balloons are guided by as many as 100 handlers, but the Workman is an additional safety anchor point,” notes Indyk.

The balloonicles, hybrid balloon-vehicles, are actually assembled right on top of a Workman at the parade site. A custom frame built around the Workman supports the balloon envelope, and thanks to some clever construction, the envelope acts as a one-way mirror, allowing the drivers to see out without allowing spectators to see inside the balloon. The balloonicles are typically smaller characters, such as the Kool-Aid Man, the Aflac Duck and the Macy’s Ornament.

The Big Day

The crew from Storr begins their day bright and early on Thanksgiving. They check each and every vehicle to ensure everything is in perfect condition to kickoff the parade. “The energy at the parade start is just absolutely phenomenal,” reminisces Indyk. “It’s just really neat being a part of the whole thing, knowing the Workman vehicles are going down the parade path with all these excited people watching. It’s truly an amazing experience.”

 

It’s Official

“Our relationship with Macy’s has grown to the point where they are calling us ‘The Official Mid-Duty Utility Vehicle of the Macy’s Parade,’” says Indyk. Storr Tractor has become much more than a vehicle supplier. They have assumed the role of an active, year-round partner, supplying vehicles and personnel for training days in the summer and fall, and bringing Workman vehicles for Press Day in early November. “It’s really neat for them to call us ‘The Toro Guys.’ We’re very honored to be a partner with Macy’s. Look for us on TV!” finishes Indyk. “We’re the few, the unseen, the proud!”

 

Check out this video for an inside look at Toro and Storr Tractor’s involvement in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

For more information on Toro Workman Mid-Duty Utility Vehicles, click here.

 

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