leisure 11.20.12

Thanksgiving Day Parade

THE MORNING LINE The Food Bank for NYC will be especially busy this Thanksgiving, helping neighbors affected by Sandy in addition to their usual good work. They could use a hand… We're reprinting our short history of the Macy's Day Parade and then signing off until next Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!


The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1924, a long route that started at 145th and Convent and stretched to 34th Street. They borrowed some animals from the Central Park Zoo to liven things up. The giraffe had to stay home because it wouldn't fit under the elevated tracks.

After the first couple of parades, when it became apparent that the animals weren't as kid-friendly as Macy's might have liked, they asked theatrical designer Tony Sarg to come up with some animal-shaped balloons. Felix the Cat, one of the first, was made at the Goodyear Tire company in Akron, Ohio in 1927.

For a few years the balloons were released after the parade and anyone who found one was entitled to a reward at Macy's. But this was stopped in 1933 after a student pilot stalled her engine over Jamaica Bay trying to snag a cat balloon and two tugboats in the East River tore the dachshund balloon apart.

By 1934, Walt Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Pluto joined the parade. During WWII, the rubber balloons were donated to the war effort and the parade didn't resume until 1947. It then began to develop as we know it: floats, celebrities, bigger and better balloons, and national TV coverage.

For a terrific collection of vintage Parade images, check out design:related.


Underground (from 2010)

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