History of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Background: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had its roots in 1924 when Macy’s introduced a parade featuring Macy’s employees and live animals from the Central Park Zoo. Three years later, the animals were replaced by balloons. Almost nine decades later, the parade became an icon of Thanksgiving and a beloved event that captivates millions across the wild.

1920’s:

  • 1924: The first Macy’s Parade made their debut November. 27th, 1924 as the “Macy’s Christmas Parade”.

  • 1927: Felix the Cat was the first giant balloon to appear in the Macy’s Parade. The parade was renamed to the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”.

1930’s:

  • 1933: The practice of letting the balloons float into the sky stopped after a pilot died crashing his plane into a balloon trying to win the $100.

  • The only year Santa Claus didn’t end the parade, instead he led the parade.

  • 1934: Mickey Mouse in Steam Boat Willie and Pluto in the The Chain Gang made their first appearance.

1940’s:

  • 1942 – 1944: The only years the parade did not take place due to helium and rubber shortages during World War 2.

  • 1946: The parade was first televised locally.

  • The 1946 Parade is featured in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street”.

  • Macy’s fist “falloon” appeared in the parade.

  • 1947: The parade was televised nationally.

1950’s:

  • 1952: NBC became the official broadcasters of the parade.

  • 1957: Popeye the Sailorman made his first debut and the first year the Radio City Rockettes appeared in the parade.

  • 1958: Balloons were carried down Broadway on cranes because of another helium shortage.

1960’s:

  • 1963: The parade was almost cancelled due to the assassination of JFK, just one week prior.

  • 1968: Snoopy made his first appearance. Snoopy has been the most featured balloon character with the fewest changes.

1970’s:

  • 1971: Tom the Turkey float was introduced.

  • Balloons were not used due to heavy winds and rain.

  • 1977: Kermit the Frog made his first parade debut.

1980’s:

  • 1980: Broadway performances became a regular.

  • 1986: Big Bird made his first parade appearance.

  • 1987: Ronald Regan made his debut.

  • 1989: The Parade took place during a snowstorm.

1990’s:

  • 1993: The first flight of Sonic: the Hedgehog.

  • 1994: The debut of Barney.

  • 1996: Macy’s started inflating balloons publicity on the Upper West Side the night before the parade.

2000’s:

  • 2003: The first appearance of Pokemon’s Pikachu in the Thanksgiving parade.

  • 2004: Spongebob made his first appearance the year The Spongebob Squarepants Movie came out.

  • 2009: The parade route changed to completely eliminate Broadway. The change allowed for more viewers.

2010’s:

  • 2005: Macy’s classic parade logo was swapped out for a new logo each year.

  • 2011: Paul Frank’s Julius balloon had its first flight.

  • 2012: Papa Smurf made his first flight.

  • 2014 (Present): The iconic Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, 5 other character balloons and 5 new floats will make their debut!

Viewers:

  • 250 K, people watched in 1924.

  • 1.5 M, people watched in 2013.

  • That is of every 1 icon of every individual up to 50,000!

  • Currently more than 50 million viewers watch the parade on television.

  • Emmy Awards the parade has received was, 9!

Present: This year’s Macy’s Annual Parade will feature almost 20,000 cheerleaders and four new floats, and will be watched by more than 50 million around the world.

The parade will start at Central Park West and West 77th Street, head down Central Park West and travel east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue. From there the procession will move south from West 59th Street to West 34th Street, ending in front of the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.

So, this Thanksgiving at 9 a.m. makes sure to watch the amazing Thanksgiving Parade ladies and gents!

Terms to Know:

  • Falloon: Macy’s coined term for a float with a balloon character on it.

  • Balloonicle: A cold – air balloon with a self – powered vehicle.

  • Novelty Balloons: Smaller balloons that can fit onto a performer’s head.

  • Character Balloons: Usually depict pop culture icons and are about 60 feet long and 30 feet wide.

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