Who hasn't grown up in the United States watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on television every year? To me, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the Macy's Day parade. Promptly at 9 am in the morning, eastern time. The television is tuned to the Thanksgiving Day parade (I'll probably dvr it, just in case I don't get up in time to see it), accompanied by the pleasant aroma of turkey and stuffing in the oven. The kids watch the Thanksgiving parade while waiting for the Thanksgiving dinner menu to be done at or around 1 or 2 o'clock. After Santa arrives in his sleigh on the television, it's time to eat some early Thanksgiving snacks.
The annual Thanksgiving Day parade event in New York City was started by Macy's department store on Thanksgiving Day in 1924. The first of the annual Thanksgiving day parades in the area, however, occurred at the Bamberger's department store in New Jersey.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was made popular by immigrants. It became a combination of the American Thanksgiving tradition and the European custom of having a festival. The firstr Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York was comprised mostly of Macy's employees. The employees dressed as clowns or in other colorful costumes. They marched together from Harlem to the main Macy's store on 34th Street at Herald Square.
There were also floats and marching bands, just like in today's Macy's Day parades. During the first parade, the Central Park Zoo donated 25 live animals for the Thanksgiving Day parade. Santa led the Macy's Day parade in 1934. Except for that one year, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade has always ended with Santa arriving. More than 250,000 people attended the very first Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Macy's immediately announced that the Thanksgiving parade would be held every year.
The live animals from the Central Park Zoo were featured in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade for three years. Then they were replaced with extra large balloons that were shaped like animals. Felix the Cat was the first balloon ever in the Macy's Day Parade.
The parade balloons were a huge success. Originally, they were released at the end of the Macy's Day parade. Whoever found them won a Macy's gift certificate.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade continued to grow in popularity each year. In less than a decade, more than a million people attended the Thanksgiving Day parade. The parade began to be announced on the radio. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade became famous nationwide after being included in the classic Christmas movie, "Miracle on 34th Street", in 1947.
The only years Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade didn't occur were 1942-44. World War II caused a rubber and helium shortage. Because of this, the Thanksgiving parade was cancelled.
The annual Thanksgiving parade resumed in 1945. The Macy's Day parade was televised for the first time in New York. To make the Thanksgiving Day parade easier to film, the parade route was changed. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade uses this same route today.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades have evolved from the very first Macy's Day parade. Today's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade includes over 10.000 parade participants. Giant helium balloons are displayed by marching volunteers. Hot celebrities perform live for the parade event. Floats and marching bands still entertain viewers.
Today, almost three million people watch the Macy's Day parade in person in New York City. Over 40 million people watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on television every year. NBC has broadcast the Thanksgiving parade for over 50 years. Television coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade has even earned Emmy Awards.