History of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

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The highlight for many households is the annual Macy’s Day Parade.  So, let’s take a look at the long history behind the parade.

Balloons are popular for children of all ages
Balloons are popular for children of all ages

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is an annual event to watch for many American households.

The parade began in 1924, when Macy’s employees, who were recent immigrants wanted a way to celebrate their new American heritage.  They wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with the type of festival their parents loved in Europe. The Macy’s parade is the 2nd longest Thanksgiving parade in the United States, following the 6abc Dunkin’s Donuts Parade {formerly known as the Gimbles Parade}.

The first parade was such a success that Macy’s announced it would become an annual event.  The only time the parade was suspended was during  World War II, from 1942-1944.

In the early years the balloons were released at the end of the year, but that tradition soon ended.

In those early days people could listen to the parade broadcast over the radio.  The first network broadcast on TV was in 1948.  The show has been Nationally Broadcast since 1952.

Bands excitedly prepare to march in the parade
Bands excitedly prepare to march in the parade

The parade was well known by then thanks to it’s longevity, sponsorship and the 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street.

Today the event is Broadcast on NBC.  The first hour the event is televised is a sampling of the fare currently on Broadway.  Various musical stars and actors appear throughout the parade with a wide selection of balloons.

The balloons are a celebration all their own the day before the parade as they are blown to life.  Depending on the size of the balloon anywhere from 30-90 handlers are used to walk with the balloon down the path down 6th Avenue and 34th Street, before arriving at Herald Square.

Bands arrive from all over the country, having worked hard to receive a coveted spot and raise funds for this memorable trip.

In the recent years, stars of Broadway, TV, movies and the music industry drop in to share a warm welcome, share a thankful moment or perform.

Of course the parade is not complete without Santa
Of course the parade is not complete without Santa

More than 8,000 people participate in the parade, with over 3.5 million people lined along the parade route and over 50 million people watching the parade on TV.  Each year the parade grows bigger.

The planning of the parade takes a full year to put on the next year’s spectacular show.

Spectators often arrive well before the light of day for a prime viewing spot along the parade route.

Of course, the highlight of the parade for everyone is the finale and the sight of Santa Claus.  And thus begins the official holiday season.