MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
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.
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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
• 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
• 34th Street: the south side
of the street between Broadway and
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
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
as the Balloons Get Inflated on Thanksgiving
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.
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.
Thanksgiving Day Parade History
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
2000 The Parade welcomes
"Bandleader Mickey" – the
third time the beloved Mickey Mouse has made
2001 Macy’s Thanksgiving
Day Parade celebrates 75 years of making magic
for the holidays!
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Facts About Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
first parade in 1924 was called the
"Macy's Christmas Day Parade"
although it took place on Thanksgiving
animals including camels, goats, elephants,
and donkeys, were a part of the parade
that inaugural year.
original parade route was from 145th
Street and Convent Avenue to 34th Street
and Herald Square.
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.
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
1927, Macy's introduces the world famous
giant helium balloons. The first balloons
included Felix the Cat and Toy Soldier
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.
balloons were redesigned and again released.
Equipped with a return address label,
Macy's offered a prize for their return.
1932, Clarence Chamberlain, an aviator
flying above New York City, catches
the Pig Balloon in mid air in order
to claim the prize money.
Claus has ended the parade every year
except 1933, the only year in which
he led the parade.
parade was cancelled in 1942, 1943,
and 1944 due to World War II
1955, the parade telecast returns to
NBC after a two year tun on CBS.
to a helium shortage in 1958, the balloons
are brought down Broadway on cranes.
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.
1977, the "Parade Lady" Jean
McFaddin takes the helm of the parade,
which she leads for the next 24 years.
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.
1989, the parade marches on through
its very first snowstorm.
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.
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.
is the world's second largest consumer
of helium. The United States government
is the first.
you laid every parade balloon since
1927 end to end they would stretch from
Battery Park City to the Cloisters.
than 50,000 clowns have delighted millions
of children along the parade route.
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Photos of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
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