Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: As America prospered during the Roaring Twenties, so did Macy’s! New York City’s most iconic department store first went public in 1922, as R. H. Mach & Co. began acquiring competitors and opening regional locations. By 1924, the flagship store located in Manhattan’s Herald Square had expanded to cover an entire city block. The store spanned from Broadway to Seventh Ave near 34th Street.
At 1 million square feet of retail space, it was known as the “World’s Largest Store.” The opening of this location was a huge step for Macy’s, so to celebrate, the store decided to host a parade. However, rather than focusing on Thanksgiving, which actually coincided with the timing, Macy’s decided to focus on Christmas. And 98 years later, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade still serves as a way to whet the appetite of holiday shoppers.
In 1924, Macy’s Herald Store was filled with employees dressed in vibrant costumes. There were also professional bands, floats, and live animals which had been borrowed by the Central Park Zoo.
Santa Claus was warmly welcomed into Herald Square at the end of the first parade, where he was enthroned on the Macy’s balcony and crowned the “King of the Kiddies.” Despite a lack of media coverage, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade attracted more than 250,000 spectators. Thus, the store announced it would be an annual event from that point forward.
Balloons were first introduced in 1928 and served as a way to replace live zoo animals. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company made these giant balloons that are often character shaped from the 1920s up until the 1980s. In the earliest years, they had no way of deflating the balloons. So, up until 1932, lucky contestants could try to “catch” the deflated balloons in a “Balloon Race” and then return them to Macy’s for a $100 prize.
Over the years, there have been many beloved Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. These include Curious George, Snoopy, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Kermit the Frog, Mickey Mouse, Sour Patch Kids, and more.
Aside from the iconic balloons and floats, the parade also features performances and live music. In fact, high school and college marching bands from across the nation walk in the parade. Moreover, live television broadcasts show other performances from new and established bands and singers. One such band is the Rockettes from Radio City Music Hall, who have performed every year since 1957.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Fun Facts
Here are some fun facts about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade:
- The parade initially ended with the unveiling of holiday displays in store windows.
- The first television broadcast of the parade was in 1932.
- In 1934, Mickey Mouse made his Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debut.
- Horses once pulled the parade floats.
- Only one historical event prevented the Parade from happening: WWII.
- Macy’s is one of the world’s biggest helium consumers.
- The balloons are painted after they are inflated.
- The people who direct the balloons are called “Balloon Pilots.”
- Three million people worldwide watch this event each year.
Don’t miss this spectacular event broadcast live on NBC yearly from 9 AM until 12 PM. Each year is a mixture of new and returning guests, floats, and balloons. This is a fantastic event for the entire family – so don’t miss out on Thanksgiving morning!