Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Thanksgiving Day Parade Ticker Tape Disaster

Ticker tape parades have been an American tradition since 1886, used to celebrate all kinds of historic achievements, special holidays, and other momentous occasions. By far the largest of these events held on an annual basis is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; which also features massive balloons and marching bands. But during this time of year did you ever stop to think of where all that paper thrown out comes from?

imageOriginally ticker tape parades derived much of their material from just that: ticker tape. As a form of telegraphed stock pricing information, large amounts of ticker tape would be produced during the work day. During parades (instead of being disposed of) the paper would then be thrown out from the office buildings along the route, creating a snowstorm like effect around spectators and participants alike. As time moved on and that form of technology became obsolete the events continued to be held in New York, but the scrap paper being used changed; sometimes with adverse results.

In incidents during the 2008 Macy’s Day Parade and 2009 Yankee’s World Championship Parade, paper containing confidential information rained down on participants from above. To make matters worse, social security numbers and other personally identifiable information were still readable on the ground (leading to discovery of the error) and could have landed in the wrong hands. The Macy’s organization said that their provided material was commercially produced confetti, but there was nothing to stop overzealous office workers from using anything on hand as part of the fun.

Though your business might not have to worry about having your information literally tossed out the window, securely shredding all documents with sensitive data on them is definite necessity. As the end of the year approaches it might be wise to consider the benefits of a purge project before the holidays are over, allowing for a fresh start to the New Year!


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