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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Thursday 9am-12pm
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General Parade Information
History of the Parade
Parade Fun Facts
Historic Photo Gallery


 

MACY'S  THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to visit NYC! Join as more than 2.5 million people line the streets to watch the balloons, floats and falloons, celebrities, bands, and clown crews in the most spectacular holiday celebration in the world. The spirit of that small band of 1924 Macy’s employees lives on today with the participation if more than 4000 volunteers on the famous 2 1/2 mile march through Manhattan’s streets. And don't forget to catch the action on Thanksgiving Eve as thousands watch the giant balloons get filled with helium.

Viewing the Parade:
The parade starts at 77th Street and Central Park West, proceeds to Columbus Circle, turns on Broadway, goes down Broadway to 34th Street, and ends just past Macy's Herald Square, on 7th Avenue.

Viewing Locations:
• From Central Park West: the west side of the street from 70th Street to Columbus Circle and on the east side of the street from 70th to 65th Street.
• Columbus Circle: the west side of the street.
• Broadway: between 58th and 38th Streets.
• 34th Street: the south side of the street between Broadway and 7th Avenue.

There is no public viewing on Broadway from 34th to 38th Street. On 34th Street from Broadway to 7th Avenue limited viewing is available on the south side of street only. To ensure a good viewing location, get there early. Spectators arrive as early as 6:30am.

Regulations
Please leave folding chairs at home.
Dress in layers to keep warm. November in Manhattan can be quite cold.
Come rain or shine.
Parade Hotline: 212-494-4495

Watch as the Balloons Get Inflated on Thanksgiving Eve
Every year on Thanksgiving Eve thousands of New Yorkers and visitors watch the giant balloons get filled with helium, near the American Museum of Natural History at 77th Street and Central Park West.

Macy's Parade Route
Macy's Parade Route Symbols
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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade History

On November 27, 1924, the first Macy’s Christmas Parade stepped off from Convent Avenue and 145th Street in New York City. Four hundred employees accompanied by scores of animals, from camels to elephants, with bands, balloons, and floats in tow, took to the streets to begin an American holiday tradition that has become a part of our lives and a piece of Americana.

Conceived by Macy’s employees, many of whom were European immigrants, the Parade was a celebration of the Christmas season rooted in the traditional festivals of their homelands.

In that spirit, Herbert Strauss, President of R.H. Macy & Co., took out newspaper ads which promised "a surprise New York will never forget!"

An estimated quarter million spectators witnessed this auspicious event as the parade wound its way down to Macy’s Herald Square for Santa Claus’ unveiling of Macy’s Christmas windows on 34th Street.

For 75 years, the words "Let’s Have a Parade!" have continued to stir the emotions of millions of people across the country and around the world.

1927 Macy’s asks theatrical designer and creator of Macy’s Christmas windows, Tony Sarg, to design giant balloons which would become the signature pieces of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Filled with helium, Sarg’s first designs – Felix the Cat, the Dragon, the Elephant, and the Toy Solider – are a huge success. Those first balloons would explode upon release, as their creators had forgotten that helium expands at high altitudes.
1928
Macy’s experiments with an air and helium mixture that is used to this day. That same year sees another first: at the end of the parade, the balloons are released into the air as a fitting climax.

Macy's Parade Ad - 1924
1929 Balloons, including the Dachshund, are equipped with a return address and an offer of a prize. In following years, the Dachshund Balloon lands in the East River, and two tugs race madly for the prize, tearing it to pieces in the process.
1931 Clarence Chamberlain, an aviator flying above New York City, catches the Pig Balloon in midair in an effort to collect the reward money. The following year, an aviator almost crashes into Broadway in an attempt to catch the Cat Balloon.
1933 After a few close calls, the practice of releasing the balloons is stopped in the interest of public safety.
1930s Celebrities, such as Benny Goodman and Harpo Marx, join in the Thanksgiving Day festivities.
1934 Tony Sarg and Walt Disney create balloons including Mickey Mouse, the Big Bad Wolf, the Little Pig, and Pluto.
1939 Children’s comic book favorites, including Superman, are introduced, paving the way for pop culture icons to be incorporated into the parade.
1950s Stars including Jackie Gleason, Shirley Temple, and Jimmy Durante, join the parade.
1955 The Parade telecast moves to NBC after a two-year stint with CBS. Macy’s and NBC have enjoyed a broadcast relationship ever since.
1957 Popeye the Sailorman sails into the parade.
1958 Air-filled balloons are brought down the parade route on cranes due to a helium shortage.
1962 The first year the Parade featured sports champions, including Willie Mays, Otto Graham, Jack Dempsey, and Ralph Terry.
1963 The Elsie the Cow Balloon heralds the arrival of the World’s Fair in Queens, New York. Also this year: The parade marches on as floats are draped in black the week following the assassination of President Kennedy.
1969 Macy’s Parade Studio moves to its current home in Hoboken, NJ, in the former Tootsie Roll factory.
1960s Lorne Greene and Betty White host the telecast from 1962 to71. In 1962, Tony Bennett first appears and will return in 2001.
1975 The Dino the Dinosaur Balloon is inducted into the American Museum of Natural History as an honorary member.
1977 "Parade Lady" Jean McFaddin, who will become a 24-year Macy’s veteran, takes the helm of the parade.
1970s Carson sidekick Ed McMahon co-hosts from 1971 to 1981.
1986 Sesame Street’s Big Bird flies for the first time in the parade. In 2001, a brand-new Big Bird Balloon was introduced.
1989 The parade takes to the street despite its first snow storm.
1980s Diana Ross and Sammy Davis, Jr. are just two of the celebrities from the film, television, and music worlds to join the fun.
1993 Sonic the Hedgehog Balloon introduces the first video game character to the line up.
1996 Rugrats becomes the parade’s first three-character balloon.
1999 Ask Jeeves becomes the first Internet-inspired character.
1990s Pop and country stars such as Shania Twain and NSYNC take center stage.
2000 The Parade welcomes "Bandleader Mickey" – the third time the beloved Mickey Mouse has made an appearance.
2001 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrates 75 years of making magic for the holidays!


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Fun Facts About Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The first parade in 1924 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.
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 tun 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.
The 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 United States 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.

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Historic Photos of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's Parade Photos Back to top of page

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