NYC's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: World's Most Famous Parade

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Nov 25, 2003, 9:47:34 PM11/25/03
As always, a little history lesson for the out-of-town yokels - a state of
mind, not necessarily a state of locale: eheee

For over 75 Years, Macy's (single-largest department store in the world, owned
by sweet Jews, Abraham & Straus) has given us a tradition which both celebrates
America and calls forth Christmas.

Let's take a look back!

Santa Claus' arrival - 1950's
How did this most famous of American parades get started?

Humpty Dumpty float - 1926
It actually stems from European tradition. In the 1920's many of Macy's
department store employees were first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new
American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the American holiday with the type
of festival they loved in Europe.

Eddie Cantor balloon - 1940
The employees marched from 145 Street down to 34th Street dressed as clowns,
cowboys, knights and sheiks. There were floats, professional bands and 25 live
animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.

With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was a hit!

Large balloons first appeared in 1927 with Felix the Cat. One tradition long
gone is the releasing of the balloons. They would float for days and the lucky
finder could claim a prize!

Ah, the good old days!

Children then and now love the Parade! Through the 1930's, the Parade grew and
grew. Depression-era crowds of over 1 million lined the Parade route by 1934.
New balloons such as Walt Disney characters were among the favorites and radio
audiences were able to hear the ceremonies and Santa's arrival at 34th Street.

The 1940's saw an end to the Parade since there wasn't much to celebrate during
World War II. Also, the rubber and helium could not be wasted. The Parade
resumed in 1945, and was televised in New York. The Parade also began the route
that it still runs today.

A happy dachsund in Times Square - 1950's
Bullwinkle the Moose, shown here in 1982, first appeared in 1961.
With nationwide television, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade assumed it's
hold on the entire nation in the 1950's.

It also became a time for celebrities. Sid Caesar, Danny Kaye, and even Howdy
Doody made appearances.

The Parade has always been known for its policy of going on rain or shine and
the valiant efforts of the balloon wranglers should always be recognized.

The most bittersweet year of the Parade had to be 1963. Less than a week after
President Kennedy's assassination, the country was still in mourning. But, it
went on so as not to "disappoint the millions of children."

Underdog balloon - 1977
In 1971, the winds were so bad, the balloons had to be cancelled. Television
viewers had to settle for clips from the 1970 Parade.

Through the 1960's, 70's and 80's, some of the favorite balloons appeared
including Snoopy, Kermit the Frog, and Superman.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a true New York experience that is
magical for both children and adults. We want to thank Macy's for these photos
and wish them many more years of marching down Broadway!

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