On Thanksgiving Day in 1924, starting at 145th Street, the employees of Macy’s began the first of what would become many marches, dressed in the most vivacious costumes and accompanied by numerous floats, professional musical acts, and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo including lions, tigers, bears, and yes, even elephants for what was then called the Macy’s Christmas Parade.
“I had no idea that the first Macy’s Day Parade had actual animals in it, you normally only think that there are floats and balloons but not real animals.,” said Kaden Burress.
The Macy’s Day Parade was met with a ton of success the first time it happened and this was an amazing surprise for the Macy’s planning team for the parade. So, they decided it would become an annual tradition which was an amazing surprise for the people of New York City.
The participants of the parade undertook a 5.5-mile trek all the way to 34th Street and Herald Square, where the celebration ended with the crowing of Macy’s ‘Jolly Old Elf’ as ‘King of the Kiddies.’ As with most great occurrences, the parade was met with such surprising success, as hundreds of thousands of onlookers supported and relished in the event, that Macy’s professed it would become an annual tradition.
The original parade route started at 145th street and Convent Avenue in Harlem and continued six miles to Herald Square. The parade itself was small, about two blocks, but the route was almost three times as long as it is today.
With each year, the parade continued to expand and transform with the changing times. In 1927, thanks to the famous German-American puppeteer, Tony Sarg, the live animals from the Central Park Zoo were replaced with his astounding larger-than-life animal balloons. This would begin Macy’s unbelievable history of innovation, pushing the limits of creativity with parade balloons, “falloons,” “balloonicles,” and “trycaloons.”
In 1928, the cast of balloon characters was released into the sky as part of the parade’s finale, but much to everyone’s surprise, they all burst. The next year, the balloons were redesigned to include a safety valve that allowed them to float on for days. Each one also included an address, so whoever found the deflated balloons could mail them back to the store for a free gift.
In New York, and for the many families who watch the parade, have this event set up for a perfect kickoff to the holidays.
“I personally watch the parade every single Thanksgiving morning while helping my parents prepare the food for the day,” said Jerad Walton.
The Macy’s Day Parade is just another reason for you to be giving ‘thanks’ and ‘gratitude’ to everyone in your life and if you are in the New York area or able to turn on your TV to the NBC channel and tune in to a live showing of the parade, since it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without experiencing a little more magic with the family.