THE Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has a long and rich history dating back almost 100 years.
It has entertained millions over the decades and was only canceled during the Second World War.
Animals such as bears, camels, and elephants were used before Macy’s decided to replace them with balloons.
The parade’s history dates back to 1924 – two years after RH Macy & Co. Stores opened for the first time.
Business boomed at the company’s flagship store in Manhattan’s Herald Square, so much so that it expanded in 1924 to cover an entire city block.
That’s when the bosses decided to kick off the holiday shopping season with a New York Thanksgiving parade.
But back then, it was called the Macy’s Christmas Parade as it was less about Turkey Day.
It focused more on the December holiday – or rather the presents that were bought to be placed underneath the tree.
Parade floats matched the nursey-rhyme theme in Macy’s Christmas window display.
The event turned out to be so much of a hit that the following morning, Macy’s put out an announcement in the newspaper saying that it will host the parade again the following year.
“We did not dare dream its success would be so great,” stated the newspaper advertisement, according to History.com.
While most people couldn’t imagine the iconic Thanksgiving Day parade without the Snoopy balloon, the beloved inflatable characters from the parade used to be real-life zoo animals.
However, the animals from the Central Park Zoo did not enjoy the six-mile-long celebration and neither did the marchers who had to cautiously walk in the parade with them.
Young spectators were also scared of the chilling noises made by these weary animals, so they were replaced by character balloons in 1927.
Character balloons quickly became the signature attraction of the parade after the debut of Felix the Cat.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Macy’s would give away $100 to anyone who returned a drifted balloon.
However, in 1932, Macy’s stopped releasing the balloons at the end of the parade because of the chaos that ensued when pilots would try to catch those balloons with their airplanes.
The parade has shortened in length to two and a half miles, but has grown in grandeur with dozens of balloons, marching bands, celebrities, and cheerleaders.
From the very first parade, Santa Claus remains the star of the show.
Many people have fond memories of watching the Macy’s parade on TV while their family prepares a Thanksgiving feast, but the parade only started to be televised in 1948.
Before that, it was recorded on radio. However, the radio broadcast fizzled out in 1951.
PARADE PUT ON HOLD
The only time the Thanksgiving parade was canceled was from 1942 to 1944.
There was a helium and rubber shortage during World War II, which meant the celebration had to be put on hold.
Amid the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the parade still went ahead.
But, few spectators were allowed to attend the parade and there was no Macy’s Balloon Inflation Celebration or marching bands.
This year’s parade, however, will feature 16 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 40 novelty and heritage inflatables, more than 700 clowns, 12 marching bands, and 10 performance groups.
There will also be an array of music stars and A-listers and the infamous Santa Claus.
Credit : www.the-sun.com