Article by Ace Rucker and Kat Woodruff-Carter
Featured Image from Bing free images
What’s the first thing the average person does on Thanksgiving morning? They watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While loads of people love seeing elaborate floats, boisterous crowds, and marching band performances under a giant Snoopy inflatable, we typically don’t ask where it all came from. Let’s take a look at the history of this monumental Thanksgiving tradition.
1. Not the first department store Thanksgiving parade
Did you know that Macy’s was not the first store to sponsor a Thanksgiving Parade? That’s right! It turns out, the Gimbel Brothers Department Store in Philadelphia did. This parade first started in 1920, and the Macy’s Day Parade started four years later, in 1924. This parade consisted of about fifty people, fifteen cars, and Santa Claus. This is what inspired Macy’s to do a parade—a competition.
2. It wasn’t always Thanksgiving
If you think about the Macy’s Day Parade, you may immediately think of Thanksgiving, however, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was originally the Macy’s Christmas Parade! There were clowns, costumes, floats, bands, and more, but the main event was Santa Claus unveiling the store’s Christmas window display.
3. It was originally broadcasted on the radio
I know we all think of watching the parade on TV, but it wasn’t always that way. The parade was first broadcasted on the radio in 1932. It wasn’t broadcasted on TV until 1946, and was nationally televised on NBC the next year.
4. Before the balloons
It wasn’t always the massive balloons that stole the show; in the beginning, they actually had real zoo animals in the parade. The balloons first appeared in 1927, with Felix the Cat being the first to be filled with helium later on. The balloons were first filled with helium in 1928, and afterward, they had no way to deflate them. Instead, they just released the balloons! Macy’s used the release day for good publicity and made it a contest in which whoever found it could return it to the return address for a prize. They eventually stopped doing this in the early 1930s due to balloons drifting out to sea, causing damage, and inciting fights over the prize.
5. That’s a lot of glitter
Have you ever heard the expression “glitter never goes away”? The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is living proof of that! Over three hundred pounds of glitter are used to decorate floats, costumes, and more, and the parade wouldn’t be the same without it. As for floats, according to Macy’s, this year’s parade will have thirty-one floats, and some of the new ones include a Toys-R-Us float, a Baby Shark float, and the Wondership. Regarding costumes, they usually make about forty-two hundred; however, this year there will be two groups of clowns, the balloon handlers, sixteen performers, multiple large marching bands, and ten performance groups!
This Thanksgiving, whenever you sit down in front of the TV and enjoy the smells of your favorite Thanksgiving food being cooked, don’t forget to tell your loved ones you’re thankful for them… Then teach them about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!