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Fun Facts About the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

Fun Facts About the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is as American as apple pie and it draws in both crowds of people and crowds of television viewers each year. The celebration of Thanksgiving for many around the United States is punctuated by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which is why it brings us tremendous pride each year to offer perhaps the best way to experience this iconic event. Our New York Thanksgiving Parade VIP Packages offer guests an opportunity to make the parade even better by accessing an incredible vantage point coupled with a special evening of delicious food and unforgettable entertainment. In anticipation of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade this year, we thought we’d offer some fun and interesting facts about New York’s most famous annual event! If learning about the parade inspires you to choose a VIP experience but you’d like to know more, please feel free to get in touch.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Started Out as a Christmas Parade

Given how much of a Thanksgiving staple the Macy’s Parade is, this fact is a tough one for some people to accept. But trust us when we say that it’s true. The very first Macy’s parade was in 1924 and it involved hundreds of Macy’s employees who marched a Christmas parade. There were floats, marching bands, and even various animals borrowed from the zoo (it was an earlier time). The parade proved very popular but was changed three years later to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The First Macy’s Parade Was Six Miles Long

The grandeur and scale of the Macy’s Parade is a huge part of its appeal. Only rather than starting small and building in size, the original parade was absolutely epic. The parade ran for six miles, starting on 145th street in upper Manhattan and ending on 34th street, at Macy’s flagship store. This huge parade lasted for several hours and was mostly powered by horses that pulled the floats along.

The Incredible Balloon Floats are Older than you Think

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the huge inflatable floats at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are a newer feature — or even that they started in the mid 20th century. However, they date back to 1927. Even as far as that first year, the floats were jaw-droppingly huge. Some of the old inflatable guard we all know and love have been there from the early days, including Felix the Cat (1927) and Mickey Mouse (1932). Snoopy didn’t make an appearance until 1968.

Flyaway Balloons

In the early days, Macy’s let the balloons float away at the end of the parade, trusting them not to cause too much mischief. One year, in 1928, they even turned this epic act of littering into a form of treasure hunt by stating that whoever found the balloons won a Macy’s gift certificate for $100. Needless to say, arguments and fights over the balloons ensued as people fought over the prizes. One flyaway balloon in 1932 almost caused a plane crash; after this, Macy’s stopped releasing its balloons into the wild. It’s probably for the best, but we have to admit that it must have been something else to see Mickey Mouse floating down the suburbs in Upstate New York!

Camels, Tigers, Elephants, Oh My!

As we briefly mentioned earlier, there were live animals in the first few parades, all borrowed from the zoo. Of course, the use of live animals wouldn’t be permitted today, but this was almost one hundred years ago. This moving menagerie included camels, goats, tigers, and even elephants. When you add in all the horses required to pull the floats in the early days, the amount of dung on the streets from all the animals was considerable and the clean-up was a big operation. However, it turned out that the live beasts scared as many children as they delighted, so a decision was made to drop live animals from the parade after just a few years.

The Different Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Routes Over the Years

The route the parade has taken over the years has changed for various reasons. As we stated earlier, it used to be six miles, from 145th street to 34th street. The parade made a drastic change of route in 2009 as it had to avoid the new pedestrian section of Broadway. Then, in 2011, it was changed to Sixth Avenue. As the parade is a huge draw for tourists, different parts of Manhattan usually want the parade to pass by, bringing with it vast numbers of foot traffic. The 2020 route was understandably smaller as they did what they could to offer a spellbinding TV display while not encouraging large crowds of people to gather. The parade only moved past the original Macy’s story, but it still had some incredible floats and displays.
That’s all we have time for today. We hope we’ve revved you up for this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and we also hope that a few readers are ready to get out and enjoy an unforgettable Your VIP Pass experience this year! These big events pull us together as a city and we feel it’s important to get out there and enjoy them again! We look forward to seeing some of you this Thanksgiving!

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