Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Turns 90: Timeless And Traditional Fanfare Still Dazzles And Delights

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade takes Manhattan once again for its 90th-anniversary spectacle, dazzling thousands of visitors who will line the parade route and thousands more nationwide who will be tuning into network television to view the annual tradition.

In 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade made its debut, featuring live animals strutting alongside Macy’s employees donning costumes. The parade spanned two blocks to delight a quarter of a million spectators who flanked the New York streets. It was not until the 1930s that the parade earned its official name, being dubbed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Wait a minute. If the first parade took place in 1924, shouldn’t this be the 92nd anniversary?

While your basic mathematical skills are sharp, there were in fact only 89 parades before 2016. During World War II, some supplies that were needed by the military were in short supply. One such supply was rubber. In 1942, the parade was canceled, and its balloons were deflated and donated to the war effort. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade made its comeback in 1945 with nine new balloons, and the popular tradition was first nationally televised in 1948 on NBC. For more parade history fun facts, Macy’s has featured an interactive website that enables you to browse through the parade’s timeline.

Over the decades that have followed, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade has grown to epic proportions, with larger than life balloons, spectacular floats, talented marching bands, celebrity performances, and Broadway acts. Featured floats and balloon characters have all reflected the culture of the time, giving each year’s parade a unique touch to promote new entertainment and current dreams for society.

Some new balloons to join the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this week include the Trolls, Charlie Brown with his kite, and two novelty cartoon characters, Felix the Cat and Trixie the Dog, who is sure to dwarf the largest Great Dane in the crowd. The Muppets and Sarah McLachlan are among this year’s slated performers.

As ABC News reports, a group of lucky third-graders had the honor of getting a sneak preview of the new floats being assembled at the Macy’s Parade Studio in New Jersey. Among the new floats for this year’s lineup are the inspiring Girl Scouts’ Building a Better World float and the yuletide Balsam Hill Deck the Halls float.

Some anticipated Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade favorites that will drift by overhead once again include Hello Kitty, Paddington Bear, Spongebob Squarepants, Angry Birds’ red bird, and the classic Pillsbury doughboy. Also returning is Pikachu, the balloon that will enthrall enthusiastic gamers who have been fervently engrossed in Pokemon GO for the past few months.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Will Feature Pikachu Balloon
[Image by Jeff Christensen/AP Images)

No Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade can go on without the familiar Tom Turkey float, and the event cannot be completed without the grand finale: the traditional visit from Santa Claus as he rides and waves majestically on his sleigh float. This is your less-than-subtle reminder from Macy’s that you have just one month left to complete your holiday gift shopping. Don’t worry. You can savor the tryptophan-induced coma for a little longer this year since many retailers have opted out of opening on Thanksgiving Day. The brutal Black Friday battles can wait until midnight.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade route commences on the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West and concludes at Macy’s at Herald Square on 34th Street. According to NBC News, security measures will be on heightened alert in light of a rumored terrorist attack threat. The New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner advises people to attend and enjoy the parade, however, and not allow fear to dampen their holiday merriment.

New York’s weather forecast for Thursday, on the other hand, may dampen things a bit, but fun-loving spirits will likely not notice a few raindrops. Still, watching the parade in the comfort of your cozy living room on a wall-sized plasma screen television may sound like a better alternative for many families.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Ends With A Visit From Santa
[Image by Bryan R. Smith/AP Images]

The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade kicks off at 9 a.m. on Thursday, captivating audiences of all ages and every walk of life as families come together to usher in another holiday season. If you anticipate political bickering over the turkey dinner and team rivalry in front of the afternoon football games, be sure to first gather your loved ones for scenes of revelry and youthful wonder over breakfast and the joys of Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Happy Thanksgiving!

[Featured Image by Jeff Christensen/AP Images]