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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Fun Facts

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  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was first held in 1924 when was called the Macy’s Christmas Day Parade although it took place on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Live animals including camels, goats, elephants, and donkeys, were a part of the parade that inaugural year.
  • The original parade route was from 145th Street and Convent Avenue to 34th Street and Herald Square.
  • The floats were pulled by horses. In the first parade a white steed that was to aid in the Ben-Hur float disappeared at the last minute before the start of the parade.
  • In 1925 and 1926, bears, lions, and tigers were added to the live animals used, but the use of these animals had to be discontinued because they scared children.
  • In 1927, Macy’s introduces the world famous giant helium balloons. The first balloons included Felix the Cat and Toy Soldier.
  • 1928 saw the first release of the giant balloons into the air at the end of the line of march. The balloons promptly exploded after reaching a certain altitude.
    Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was first held in 1924

    Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was first held in 1924

  • The balloons were redesigned and again released. Equipped with a return address label, Macy’s offered a prize for their return.
  • In 1932, Clarence Chamberlain, an aviator flying above New York City, catches the Pig Balloon in mid air in order to claim the prize money.
  • Santa Claus has ended the parade every year except 1933, the only year in which he led the parade.
  • The parade was cancelled in 1942, 1943, and 1944 due to World War II.
  • In 1955, the parade telecast returns to NBC after a two year tune on CBS.
  • Due to a helium shortage in 1958, the balloons are brought down Broadway on cranes.
  • In 1969 the Macy’s Parade Studio moves to its current home in Hoboken, New Jersey in a former Tootsie Roll factory.
  • Dino the Dinosaur balloon was inducted into the American Museum of Natural History in 1975 as an honorary member.
  • In 1977, the “Parade Lady” Jean McFaddin takes the helm of the parade, which she leads for the next 24 years.
  • In the 1980s, the smaller “novelty” balloons were introduced, including the Macy’s stars and the 30 foot triple-scoop ice cream cone. “Falloons” were also introduced at this time. A combination of float and cold air balloon, this is a highlight of the creativity of the Macy’s Parade Studio.
  • In 1989, the parade marches on through its very first snowstorm.
  • The 1990s saw the parade balloons adding new characters from the internet, video games, and contemporary cartoons. Sonic the Hedgehog, Ask Jeeves, and the Rugrats were just a few of these balloons.
  • The parade has attracted a sea of celebrities. The years have seen Harpo Marx, Jackie Gleason, Diana Ross, Sammy Davis, Jr., Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow, NSYNC, Shania Twain, and Christina Aguilera.
  • Macy’s is the world’s second largest consumer of helium. The US government is the first.
  • If you laid every parade balloon since 1927 end to end they would stretch from Battery Park City to the Cloisters.
  • More than 50,000 clowns have delighted millions of children along the parade route. [youtube SyTjDrW470w 650]
Sonia is the heart and the artist of the team. She loves art and all that it implies. As Sonia says, good music, a well directed movie, or attending a music or film festival melts people’s heart and make them better. She is great at painting and photography. Working on scrapbooks is her favorite activity.