The History of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Author: Lauren Ross


The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a loved and iconic tradition in the Big Apple that draws nearly 3.5 million attendees and 50 million televised views every year. Kids of all ages wait eagerly to see the famous giant character balloons, renowned performers, star-studded floats, and of course… the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus! The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a long standing tradition and continues to exceed expectations year after year.

Whether you brave the brisk NYC cold in order to secure a spot on the packed city streets or tune in from the comfort of your own apartment, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has continually been a part of your Thanksgiving Day. During these memorable times, have you ever wondered how the parade came to be? According to Macy’s social page, the parade was started by Macy’s very own employees in 1924.

1924: The Macy’s Parade took its inaugural stroll under the name Macy’s Christmas Day Parade. The parade used animals from the Central Park Zoo, festive holiday floats, and costumed employees who celebrated their love of culture and heritage. It was such a rousing success, that it was proclaimed to be an annual event celebrated on Thanksgiving Day.

1927: Felix the Cat made his debut as the first ever character balloon to walk the parade. The spectators admired the balloon and its craftsmanship, making character balloons a staple parade fanfare in years to come.

1929: After the long 6 mile route from Herald Square to Harlem, balloon handlers would release the characters into the city skyline. Each balloon had a return address and the lucky finder who returned them received a special prize from Macy’s.

1934: Disney and Macy’s came together to debut Mickey Mouse in a giant character balloon. Mickey Mouse was hand painted and required 25 handlers to walk him to Harlem.

1942-1944: Due to World War II, Macy’s had to cancel the parade. Rubber and helium were in short supply and donated to the government for the war effort.

1946: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade moves to its current starting location at 77th street and is broadcasted locally for the very first time.

1947: The parade is broadcasted nationally allowing people from all areas of the United States to view the parade from their homes.

1968: Beloved Snoopy of the Peanuts series makes his grand appearance in 1968. He has become the longest used character in history making this year his 7th version!

1996: The Macy’s Inflation Celebration allows excited viewers to watch their favorite balloon characters come to life in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

2014: Performers include Idina Menzel, Cole Swindell, Meghan Trainor, Lucy Hale, KISS, plus many more!

Every year the parade becomes more lively, joyous, and star-studded than the year prior.  The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a truly treasured event that hosts the best of the best marching bands, performers, and decorative floats to help ring in the holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Featured image: Macy’s 88th annual parade poster – Business Wire

To see the route, line up, and musical guests check out! If you have any photos from the 2014 parade we would love to see them on our Facebook or Instagram page.

Our AF Instagram contest ends November 28th, if you haven’t submitted your photo-now is your chance to win a GoPro Action Camera!

AF Give Thanks contest 2014