Pilgrim balloon in 1946. Photo via Macy’s Inc.
There are many famous traditions synonymous with New York City, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is at the top of that list. The first parade marched down Broadway in the winter of 1924, and in the years since, it’s grown into an event with more than 3.5 million spectators. Though this year’s parade is going to look a bit different, the history behind the festivities and larger-than-life balloons is just as mesmerizing. Ahead, learn all about the parade’s 96 years and see some incredible archival photos.
This way for the full history
Photo courtesy of Macy’s, Inc.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a New York City tradition since 1924. In modern times, the event draws a live crowd of roughly 3.5 million and is made up of 8,000 participants, including performers, marching bands, dancers, and more. But those large numbers of people mean that this year’s pandemic-era parade will look a bit different. Macy’s announced in September that its 94th annual parade will be a television-only presentation with participant capacity reduced by 75 percent, a two-day staging, and balloons being flown by vehicles instead of the usual 80- to 100-person teams that corral each balloon. A New York Times feature today shared the happy news that actors from four shuttered Broadway shows will be performing.
Find out more
Map via Google Maps/Macy’s
It’s almost time for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and with 2.5 miles of public viewing areas along the route this year, anyone eager to claim a good spot should be able to with a little planning. This interactive map put together by the parade organizers outlines the stretches that have the best views as well as all the areas that will be restricted to the public. The map also notes where you can find essentials like restrooms, coffee, and food.
Image by Phil Roeder via Flickr
If you can’t get enough of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you can extend the festivities by attending the yearly Balloon Inflation event that takes place the day before Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, November 27 you’ll be able to see the balloons come to life as they get filled with helium outside the Museum of Natural History. It’s the perfect opportunity to get a first glimpse of the five new balloons debuting this year, including Love Flies Up to the Sky by artist Yayoi Kusama in partnership with Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery series.
Opening of the parade; photo courtesy of Macy’s, Inc
It’s turkey time! The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade hits the streets of Manhattan for the 93rd time on Thursday, Nov. 28. Since 1924, the parade has kicked off the holiday season each year with balloons, live performances, and a sense of cheer. If you’re going to be one of 50 million people watching the festivities from home, or joining the crowd of 3.5 million people attending, there are a ton of fun facts and figures to know ahead of time. From the number of marching band members (2,793) to the hours of work put in by Macy’s team pre-parade (50,000), learn the ins and outs of one of NYC’s greatest celebrations, by the numbers.
The full rundown
Photo courtesy of Macy’s, Inc.
Since New York City invented the Holiday Season as we know it, it’s only fitting that this city kicks things off in fine form. Thankfully, the good folks at Macy’s have been doing just that since 1924, when they sent the very first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sauntering down Broadway. The Parade has been synonymous with Thanksgiving for more than 90 years, and it has more secrets up its sleeve than it has balloons in the air. From “balloonatics” and “falloons” to the only time in history the parade was canceled, here are 10 things you might not know about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Image: Business Wire
Work by Yayoi Kusama, the celebrated contemporary artist who gave us those famous polka-dot pumpkins and insanely popular Infinity Rooms, will be brightening the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Japanese artist’s creation, “Love Flies Up to the Sky,” will be part of the parade’s Blue Sky Gallery, a series of balloons that reflect art from the world’s best-known contemporary artists.
Inflatable art, this way
There are 2.5 miles of public viewing along the parade route in NYC; this interactive map can help you find a great spot instead of getting lost in the crowd. The map, from the fine folks behind the parade, outlines when the parade will pass by, which streets have the best public views (6th Avenue from West 59th to West 38th Streets gets the thumbs-up) and which ones are restricted, such as Central Park South at Columbus Circle. Also marked are all-important things like coffee, food, and restrooms.
More info, this way
With just under two weeks to go until the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes to the streets, preparations are in full swing. Earlier this week Macy’s revealed a series of new balloons that will be joining the cast of old favorites at this year’s event, as AM New York reports. Among them will be a giant rendition of Goku from Dragonball Z (towering over spectators at 70 feet long, 56 feet tall and 36 feet wide) and the first Netflix characters: Fleck, Bjorn, Jojo and Hugg, elves from the forthcoming movie “The Christmas Chronicles” which debuts on the streaming service on Thanksgiving Day.
Felix the Cat 1927 – first balloon in Macy’s Parade
In 1927, three years after its first incarnation, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade replaced its live animals with balloons designed by marionette maker Anthony Frederick Sarg and made by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (more on that here). The first such animal-shaped balloon was Felix the Cat, and after a nearly 90-year hiatus, the Times reports that he’s returning to the parade this year.