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.
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All photos courtesy of Eugene Gologursky/ Getty Images
The first department store in New York City to ever display holiday windows continued its long-standing tradition this week. Macy’s on Thursday unveiled its 2020 holiday windows at its flagship Herald Square store with the theme “Give, Love, Believe.” According to the store, the windows are a tribute to the city’s frontline workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
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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.
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Photo by John Saeyong Ra via Flickr cc
After Macy’s announced yesterday that their annual July 4th Fireworks display in NYC would go on despite the pandemic, headlined by John Legend, Mayor de Blasio said in his press conference today that the show will take on a new life this year. There will be five-minute “brief but mighty” bursts of fireworks throughout the five boroughs from June 29th through July 1st, culminating in a finale on Saturday, July 4th, which will be televised from the top of the Empire State Building. On their website, Macy’s says they “expect to announce details of the reimagined event soon.”
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Rendering courtesy of FXCollaborative
Macy’s, which recently announced plans to close 125 department stores over the next several years, is still hoping to cash in on the thriving office market by building an office tower above its Herald Square flagship store in Midtown. The retail icon revealed that it has proposed the construction of 1.5 million square feet of office space, a sky lobby, and public improvements to the surrounding area, the Wall Street Journal reports. The proposed tower would rise between 700 and 950 feet with, according to renderings revealed by YIMBY, a glass façade, setbacks, and a crown. The department store below could confer it with supertall status (984 feet or taller).
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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.
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.
Photo from the 2014 Brooklyn Bridge display, via Flickr cc
For the first time since 2014, Macy’s will move its Fourth of July fireworks to the Brooklyn Bridge, and this year’s display will “add three times more pyrotechnic firepower,” according to a press release, with more spectacular effects being set off across the entire bridge, as well as from four barges off the shore of the South Street Seaport District’s Pier 17. The 43rd annual event, the largest July 4th celebration in the nation, will see the launch of “tens of thousands of shells and effects.”
Shoppers check out a holiday window, via The Library of Congress
Santa rode in on his sleigh at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and you know what that means: It’s officially the holiday season in New York. It’s fitting that Macy’s heralds the beginning of our collective good cheer since R. H. Macy himself revolutionized the holiday season when he debuted the nation’s very first Christmas Windows at his store on 14th Street in 1874. Since then, all of New York’s major department stores have been turning merchandise into magic with show-stopping holiday window displays. Historically, New York’s holiday windows have deployed a combination of spectacle, science, and art, with cutting-edge technology and the talents of such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Robert Rauschenberg. From hydraulic lifts to steam-powered windows, take a look back at the history of New York’s holiday windows, the last word in high-tech, high-design holiday cheer.
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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.
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