On November 27th, 1924 Santa Claus chose Thanksgiving day to come to town. This is how the New York Times described what we call Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
In 1924, in fact, Macy’s organized the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” and they say it was an idea of Macy’s employees to organize it on Thanksgiving day. According to history, in the 1920s, many of Macy’s department store employees were first-generation immigrants and they wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving day with the type of festival their parents had loved in Europe.
In 89 years a lot of thing have changed, for example balloons. Initially Macy’s proposed balloons inspired by Central Park Zoo, as the alligator below from 1924 Parade.
But from 1927, the Parade welcomed balloons modeled after famous character: the first one was Felix the Cat.
So yes, Macy’s thanksgiving parade balloons used be extremely creepy. Then in 1934 different collaborations started. First of all with Walt Disney for a Micky mouse balloon: in 1957 a Popeye balloon: Snoopy’s in 1961 and Hello Kitty, Spongebob, Spider Man and more.
Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1941
Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1973
Thanksgiving parade 1986. Photo by Elliot Erwitt
Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1987
Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1988. Photo by Elliot Erwitt
Thanksgiving Parade, 2011.
Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2013. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters
The route also changed a lot. In 1924 the Parade started from Convent Avenue at 145th Street, passed down Morningside and Columbus Avenues to 110th Street, where it turned west to Broadway, Columbus Circl, 40th St and down to 34th Street. Today, instead, the route has been long 2,5 miles.
Macy’s Thanksgiving is quite an event, a tradition in New York’s culture (remember some movies as “Miracle on the 34th Street”, 1947 and 1994 versions or the more recent “Tower Heist” with Ben Stiller), a show to enjoy at least once in you life: and you don’t need to have a kid for having an excuse to go. No one, even adults, do never need a reason to go and say Hi to giant colored balloons followed by Santa Claus!
For more information about Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade visit the Official Macy’s Page
For a more detailed history be thankful to wikipedia
And if you want to recreate the Thanksgiving atmosphere in your house, well here there is an Essential Thanksgiving Guide by The New York Times.