The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marks the beginning of the Christmas season for some and it brings about feeling of joy and togetherness for all.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there –holiday songs have taken over the radio, festive decorations now dominate store shelves, and on Thursday, November 28, the season gets into full swing with the beloved and much anticipated Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This annual colorful spectacle of floats, giant balloons, dancers, marching bands and celebrities, draws around 3.5 million spectators and 22.3 million TV viewers every year. Here’ are 5 fun facts you may or may not know, about this iconic annual event.
1. Macy’s Parade -an Instant Crowd Pleaser!
Originally called “Macy’s Christmas Parade,” this colorful procession has been gracing the streets of Manhattan since 1924. It debuted as a way to celebrate the expansion of Macy’s flagship Manhattan store, the “World’s Largest Store,” which occupied an entire city block. Participants have mostly stored employees, with many professional performers entertaining the crowd. There were several floats, bands, and also animals –bears, elephants, and donkeys. The piece de resistance was of course Santa Claus on his sleigh. The parade started at 145thStreet and Convent Avenue and proceeded down to Macy’s on 34th Street. Thousands of people lined the streets to watch the spectacle and it was so successful that Macy’s decided to make it an annual event. It became the Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927.
2. Not Everyone Approved –at First!
Two years after the first parade the Allied Patriotic Societies protested against it, saying it shouldn’t be held on ThanksgivingDay as it would “interfere with Thanksgiving Day worship.” They added that it wasn’t appropriate for a commercial company to hold an event on the holiday. The association even threatened to go to the Police Commissioner to ask him to revoke the permit. Percy Strauss, who worked for Macy’s argued that there was no blatant advertising during the event and the word Macy’s only appeared once. He added that Thanksgiving morning was the only time streets would be empty enough to accommodate the parade and it would be the only time children would be free to watch. Their efforts to cancel the parade were obviously unsuccessful and it has been an annual event enjoyed by millions ever since it started in1924.
3. Character BalloonsDebuted in 1927
Balloons made their debut in 1927 –three years after the first parade. They included a 60-foot long dinosaur attended by prehistoric cavemen, a 25-foot dachshund, giant turkeys, chickens, and ducks. The first character balloon appeared that year –and it was Felix the Cat!
4. Mickey MouseBalloon Debuts
Mickey Mouse made his parade debut in 1934. Walt Disney himself collaborated with Macy’s designers to build the 40-foot high and 23-foot wide balloon. It was so huge it had to be held down with ropes held by 25 attendants.
5. And the Winner is –Snoopy!
One character has appeared in the parade more times than any other and that’s Snoopy! Charlie Brown’s beloved pet beagle debuted in the 1968 parade and has had seven balloons made in his honor. Snoopy has made 39 appearances over the years, but in 2016 a Charlie Brown balloon usurped him. But don’t worry –Snoopy will be back for the 2019 parade!