Thanksgiving Day Parade
A holiday tradition celebrates its 75th anniversary
by John Gettings
For three-quarters of a century the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has for one day transformed New York City into a living comic book.
According to parade organizers, five of the 15 giant balloons will be brand new at this year's parade. Joining the zany cast of inflatable characters will also be 28 floats and falloons—a float with a balloon attached.
Among the new balloons is Pokemon character Pikachu, a new animated movie star named Jimmy Neutron, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese mascot Cheeseasaurus Rex, a 60-years-young Curious George, and an old familiar face making a much-anticipated return to the parade—Big Bird.
To help celebrate its diamond anniversary, parade organizers are also bringing back smaller recreations of past ballons. Grandparents and parents might recognize balloons such as the Hippopotamus, Toy Soldier, the Elf, and Harold the Fireman, all of which debuted in the 1940s.
What Year Did the Parade Not Happen?
The parade first took to the streets of New York City in 1924. It was organized by Macy's employees, most of whom were first-generation immigrants, who wanted to celebrate the holidays like they did in Europe. The employees dressed in costumes and marched from 145th street down to 34th street with floats, bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.
In 1927 Felix the Cat became the first parade balloon to hover over the city. Back then the balloons were released after the parade and whoever found them would get to keep them.
The parade has gone on every year except during World War II when, aside from there not being much to cheer for, the helium and rubber used for the balloons needed to be conserved.
When the parade returned in 1945 it was televised in New York for the first time and traveled down its current parade route for the first time too. Today more than 4,000 people participate in the parade and NBC will broadcast live all along the route from 9 a.m. to noon.
As always, the parade will end with a visit from Santa Claus. St. Nick will get settled in Macy's department store after the parade to start a month-long search for who's been naughty and who's been nice.