The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Famous Thanksgiving Parade
Peter Kramer/NBC
MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE — Pictured: Spongebob Squarepants and Gary Balloon at the 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Thursday November 28, 2019 — (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC)

For nearly 100 years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been considered by many Americans as the kickoff to Christmas. Each year the beloved parade is viewed by millions of spectators as balloons, performers, marching bands, and floats walk the streets of New York City to welcome the holidays. 

Nicknamed as the “World’s Largest Store,” Macy’s was first opened as R.H. Macy and Co. in 1858 in New York City. Nearly 45 years later in 1902, the store moved to its permanent location at Herald Square. 

The Herald Square location, which doubles as Macy’s flagship store and Macy’s Inc. corporate headquarters, stands 11 stories tall and is “2.5 million square feet, which includes 1.25 million square feet of retail space,” according to 34th Street. In 1924, this Macy’s location became known as the “World’s Largest Store.” 

That same year, in an effort to boost holiday sales and highlight the location’s new title, Macy’s employees organized a parade. Although the inaugural parade was held on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 1924, it was originally branded as the Macy’s Christmas Parade, according to the Library of Congress. 

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While the first parade was not accompanied by the large balloons that people have come to know and love today, Macy’s employees, floats, professional entertainers, and animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo marched down the “six-mile route from Harlem to Herald Square,” USA Today noted. The parade concluded at the Herald Square location with Santa Claus and the unveiling of the store’s Christmas windows. That day, “10,000 people watched Macy’s first parade,” Macy’s store timeline shows. 

The parade was such a success that it was made an annual event, becoming bigger and better every year. Three years after the first parade, according to CNN, the event was “renamed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” 

“Balloons,” as stated by the Library of Congress, “were first introduced in 1927 with Felix the Cat,” replacing the Central Park Zoo animals. During the first few years with the balloons, Macy’s ran into some issues. With Felix the Cat, there was no way to deflate the balloon. The Library of Congress remarks that “they just let it go into the air, where it popped.”
In the years following, valves were put into the balloons that allowed the helium inside to slowly escape as it floated away after the ending of the parade. In the hopes that all of the balloons would make it back in possession of the store safely, return addresses were provided and rewards were given to those who returned the balloons. 

Not all balloons made it back, though. In their article, the Library of Congress states that, “one landed in the East River while another drifted off to sea. In 1932, one balloon wrapped around an airplane’s wing, sending it into tailspin.” While no one, except for the involved balloon was injured, this accident subsequently led to the end of the releasing of the balloons. Now, the balloons are “simply deflated, crated, and stored in New Jersey when the parade ends,” People Magazine states. 

Another recent incident took place in 1997 with one of the Macy’s parade balloons, where the unthinkable happened. According to CNN, during the parade, “high winds caused the Cat in the Hat balloon to strike a lamppost, and part of the post came crashing down on the head of a bystander. The woman suffered serious injuries and was in a coma for a month.” 

This accident led to police officers stabbing and stomping down two other balloons in that year’s parade, Barney and Pink Panther, to keep from causing any further damage. This incident led parade officials to change size requirements for the balloons and also set guidelines for what to do with the balloons in high winds. 

While the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade first started 99 years ago, only 96 editions of the parade have occurred. According to People, it is because “during World War II, Macy’s canceled the event for a few years because there wasn’t enough rubber or helium to create and inflate the balloons.” After the conclusion of the war, Macy’s picked right back up on its traditions and also shortened the length of the parade route to 2.5 miles.

Since the end of World War II, Macy’s has never failed to hold its well-regarded event, even when the COVID-19 pandemic was still going strong. In 2020 during the parade’s 94th edition, the parade was audience-free, only viewed through online streaming. Through both pre-recorded and live segments, parade officials and NBC were able to bring the beloved parade to people’s screens that Thanksgiving. 

This year will be the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade’s 97th edition. The lineup for the parade includes 25 balloons, 30 floats, 17 “big names,” 29 clown crews, five balloonicles, five performance groups, and nine marching bands. 

The balloons making appearances this year include some that have flown the city streets before and some making their first appearances. Returning balloons include Bluey, Tiptoe, and Ronald McDonald. For the first time, Beagle Scout Snoopy, Po from “Kung Fu Panda,” and the Pillsbury Dough Boy will be flying. 

Balloonicles, a word blending of “balloons” and “vehicles,” include the “Baby Dinos” and “Go Bowling.” The lineup for the floats includes the “Big Red Shoe Car,” “Harvest in the Valley,” and most notably, “Tom Turkey” and “Santa’s Sleigh.” 

Among the performers this year are Brandy, Cher, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and Pentatonix. Also performing are groups such as the Big Apple Circus, the Tap Dancing Christmas Tree, and the Radio City Rockettes. The nearly three-dozen clown crews include all types of clowns, from the Artist Clowns to the Keystone Cops to the Santa’s Toy Box Clowns. 

Finally, the marching bands who were selected to perform include college bands, high school bands, and Macy’s Great American Marching Band. A band that Tarleton Texans may recognize in the parade this year is the Texas Tech University Goin’ Band from Raiderland, who have the honor to perform for millions of spectators in the parade this year. To read more about all of those appearing in the parade, visit, Macy’s official parade website. 

This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be airing on NBC and simulcast on Peacock at 8:30 A.M.ET/PT and will take place on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 2023, rain or shine. Be sure to tune in to watch the floats, performers, and balloons take to the streets of NYC to welcome Santa and kickoff the start of the Christmas season.’s,9AM%20on%20NBC%20and%20Peacock.,Jersey%20once%20the%20parade%20ends.

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Lainey Vollmer
Lainey Vollmer, Staff Writer

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