Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: An 88-Year Tradition

  • November 26, 2014

Ifelix the cat126356t was in 1924 that R.H. Macy & Company started what would become an ongoing tradition- their Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade was started due to the fact that the department store had a large number of first-generation immigrant employees from Europe. They wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving in America in the same way their parents and grandparents had celebrated important events in Europe.

This year marks the 88th parade, as there was no Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1942-1944 due to the need for rubber and helium due to the war effort. Here’s a look at the first parade and a collection of some past and recent balloons.

Mickey Mouse debuts in Macys' Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1934.

The First Parade

The first parade included Macy’s employees in festive costumes, floats, professional bands, and live animals from the Central Park Zoo. Santa ended the parade, as he has ever since. He was enthroned on the balcony of the 34th Street entrance to the store. He was given the title “King of the Kiddies.” The first parade drew over one-quarter million to the parade route. It was such a major success that it was decided that it would be an annual event.

First Balloons

The first balloons, which replaced the live animals, were seen in the Macy’s Parade in 1927. They were the brainchild of Anthony “Tony” Frederick Sarg. Sarg was a London marionette maker. When he moved from London to New York he was hired to create a window display of the parade for the store. The next year, he designed the first large animal-figure balloons for the parade. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio produced them.

The first balloon was the cartoon character Felix the Cat. He was filled with air. In 1928, they began filled the balloons with helium. In those days, they would release the balloons and whoever found one after it landed would be given a prize by Macy’s for it’s safe return. Since that time there have been hundreds of different balloons. Mickey Mouse made his debut in 1934.

Big Balloons and Broadway Performances

macys6The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is know for offering those who watch is fantastic marching bands, fun floats filled with stars, and a lot of holiday spirit. Along with featuring approximately 15 large character balloons, each year Macy’s includes performances from Broadway shows.

The first time a Broadway show was featured in the parade was in 1980 when the cast from The Pirates of Penzance performed. However, it was not until 1998 that Broadway shows became an annual part of the parade. It was also that year, for the first time, that Macy’s offered numbers from numerous productions. Last year, they featured Matilda, Motown, Pippin, and Kinky Boots. This year the parade will include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Last Ship, On the Town, Side Show, and Finding Neverland.

macys10There are also numerous performers each year. Some of the more than a dozen who will perform this year include KISS, Idina Menzel, The Vamps, Hilary Duff, and Nick Jonas. New floats this year will include Cracker Jack at the Ball Game, Goldieblox Girl Powered Spinning Machine, Dora and Friends Aventuras Fantásticas, Pirate’s Booty Treasure Hunt, Sino-American Friendship Association’s Beauty of Beijing

9 AM Start Time!

macys21356The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will start at 9 AM tomorrow. About 50 million watch the event on TV and approximately 3 million line the parade-way. As usual, it should be a grand event!

We hope that tomorrow you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with friends and family, good times, and great memories. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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