Thursday, November 15, 2007

History of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The first Parade in 1924 was called the “Macy's Christmas Day Parade” although it took place on Thanksgiving Day. In the early 1920's most of Macy's employees were first generation immigrants from Europe. To show their pride in America the started celebrated Thanksgiving in a European festival fashion by marching down the streets dressed as clowns, knights and other costumed characters. In 1927 it was renamed the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Live animals including camels, goats, elephants and donkeys were a part of the Parade that inaugural year.

The original Parade route started at 145th Street and Convent Avenue and traveled 5.5 miles to 34th Street and Herald Square.

In the first Parade horses pulled the floats. A particular white steed, that was to aid in the Ben-Hur float, disappeared at the last minute before the start of the Parade.

In 1925 and 1926, bears, lions and tigers were added to the live animals used but this had to be discontinued because they scared the children along the line of march.

In 1927, Macy's replaced the live animals in the Parade with its now signature giant helium balloons. The first balloons included Felix the Cat, The Dragon, The Elephant and Toy Soldier.

1928 saw the first release of the giant Balloons into the air at the end of the Parade. Equipped with a return address label, in 1929, Macy's began offering prizes for the return of the giant balloons.The practice of releasing the Balloons was discontinued in 1933.

The Parade was canceled in 1942, 1943 and 1944 due to World War II. At the start of the war, Macy's donated the Balloons (that where made of rubber at the time) to the government’s rubber scrap heap in a ceremony held at New York’s City Hall.

In 1947, the holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street, brought the Parade’s magic to theatres worldwide.

In 1948 NBC began telecasting the Parade nationwide, as spectators from coast-to-coast began referring to the Parade as the “Macy's Day Parade.

Macy's is the world’s second largest consumer of helium. The United States Government is the first.

In its 77-year history more than 300,000 Macy's employees have participated in the Parade. More than 50,000 clowns have delighted millions of children along the Parade route.

(click on pics to enlarge them)

Thanks to for the cool history lesson!


Sunny said...

Awesome- I watch the Parade every year on the tele while cooking Thanksgiving Dinner. To me it's officially The Holiday Season when I see Santa waving from his sleigh.
And yes- I DO wave back because despite the fact I'm 47 years old I STILL believe.

Geoff said...

What great photos. I've only seen the parade on tv, but it still says the holidays have arrived to me.

Cindy Breninger said...

Oh wow, what great photos! Great blog too! :)