Facts About The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade That You’ll Gobble Up

Before we decorate our Christmas trees, fight the crazy Black Friday crowds, heck, even before we eat our Thanksgiving dinner there is one major event that kicks off the beginning of the holiday season: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you’re anything like me, your Thanksgiving festivities begin bright and early at 9 a.m. to take in this holiday tradition. Macy’s is celebrating its 92nd year of bringing this magical parade in our homes and as it begins to reach its centennial year, it has a vast amount of facts and history behind it. Here are some of the most fascinating facts behind this American holiday staple:

1. It was originally a Christmas parade

That’s right! The big event of Thanksgiving was once used to ring in the holly jolly season. According to Macy’s history website, employees from the store took it upon themselves to organize a large parade to help spread some holiday cheer. The first parade happened in 1924 and included large floats, marching bands, and live animals from the Central Park Zoo. Three years later, the parade began to incorporate the large helium balloons that we know and love today. The first character to be created into balloon form was the popular Felix the Cat.

2. There was once “Balloon Races”

Nowadays, Macy’s has a routine to deflating these colossal balloons (they take only 15 minutes!), but back in the day Macy’s was a bit more free-spirited in how they handled their inflatable creations. In 1927, the company simply lifted the balloons into the air, but the next year they introduced a new method in disposing of their balloons. The company introduced five new helium-based balloons that were designed to slowly leak the gas. Macy’s offered up a $100 reward to anyone who returned the balloons. Like all good things, this competition had to come to a close after two incidents regarding near plane crashes.

3. Some years passed with no parade

It was all for a good cause, though! From 1942 to 1944, the time of America’s involvement in World War II, Jack Straus, Macy’s president at the time, made the conscious decision to cancel the parade. Instead, the department store donated 650 pounds of balloon rubber to the cause. Upon its return in 1945, it made a huge splash and was broadcasted on television for the first time through NBC.

4. The parade floats are portable

Macy’s parade floats are works of art, so they,of course, want to protect their work! All of the floats are handmade in Macy’s very own Thanksgiving Day Parade factory. Located specifically in Moonachie, New Jersey, Macy spends a full year creating and preparing for the big day of the parade. To get them through the Lincoln Tunnel, all of the floats are made on foldable 12 foot by 8-foot boxes.

5. “ A Miracle on 34th Street”

The holiday classic “A Miracle on 34th Street” is both an ode to the power of believing in the spirit of Christmas and to the department store giant, Macy’s. When it came time to film parade scenes for the film, the crew meticulously placed cameras along the 1946 parade route. That year parade watchers were treated to a special guest as one of the film’s stars, Edmund Gwenn, actually acted as that year’s Santa Claus.

The 92nd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airs from 9 a.m.- 12 p.m., Thursday, November 22, 2018 on NBC.