Thanksgiving in New York is basically defined by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade(opens in a new tab). Today, it is the world’s largest parade, full of giant balloons, thousands of performers, and colorful holiday floats. Its history is also full of fun facts we are excited to share and to this day remains one of the best things to do in NYC in November.
1- An Extensive History
The first Macy’s parade took place in 1924(opens in a new tab) and included animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo!(opens in a new tab) Far from humble beginnings, the first edition of the parade had an audience of over 250,000. It was such a success that Macy’s quickly declared it would become an annual event.
2- An American Custom
While the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the world’s largest Thanksgiving parade, it is not the oldest. That honor belongs to the Gimbel’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia which debuted four years ahea in 1920. Organized by Gimbel’s, once one of the mightiest department stores in the world, ultimately went defunct in 1987. Its parade outlived the store, and is now known as the 6ABC – Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade(opens in a new tab).
3- Fantastic Floating Balloons
Balloons(opens in a new tab) made their parade debut in 1927. The very first balloon in the parade was Felix the Cat! He was joined by a flying dragon, an elephant, and a toy soldier. Snoopy(opens in a new tab) is the parade’s most recurring balloon, debuting in 1968(opens in a new tab). This year, Snoopy will make his 39th parade appearance! He is certainly a staple of New York in November!
4- Not Your Average Balloons!
Each balloon uses between 300,000 and 700,000 cubic feet of helium, and costs a minimum of $510,000 to fill!(opens in a new tab) Between 1942-1944(opens in a new tab), there was a rubber and helium shortage due to World War II, prompting the parade to be cancelled and the balloons to be donated to the war efforts. These donated balloons contributed an enormous 650 pounds of scrap rubber!
5- Turkey Tradition
Tom Turkey(opens in a new tab) first bobbed his head into the Macy’s parade in 1973. While he’s undergone a few transformations, he remains a crowd favorite. In addition to being the parade’s oldest float, he is also the most recurring float in the parade.
6- The Man in the Red Suit
Ever since the very first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, Santa has joined the spectacular event to help ring in the Christmas season. While he usually serves as the parade’s grand finale, in 1933, he actually opened the parade!