Thanksgiving is one of the most awaited festivals observed throughout the world. New York City hosts its annual parade- called the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade among the several countries that make it a point to follow the traditions. What started in 1924 is still practiced today, and with much pomp and fervor.
This is the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the US after the one held in Detroit (both came four years after the Philadelphia edition). If you’ve been near Macy’s Heard Square, then you might have seen this one held just outside, between 9 am to 12 pm. While these are known facts to you, read on for facts you didn’t know about this special parade.
It might be just another occasion for the holiday and the fun factor that comes along for the world. However, for Macy’s, it marks the expansion of their store in 1924. It became a company that is now ‘The World’s Largest Store’! This Manhattan-based store. The store spread across 1 million square feet and spanned a huge block around 34th Street. So the extent is from Broadway to Seventh Avenue.
Marking The Beginning Of Christmas
You might love watching this parade out of ritual and revelry, but did you know that the parade’s initial name was Macy’s Christmas Parade? The march that went through Manhattan featured exotic scenes- with live animals and floats that seamlessly coordinated with the special nursery rhyme theme that Macy’s Christmas window displayed for all. For example, ‘The Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe,’ ‘Little Miss Muffet,” Little Red Riding Hood,’ and more.
A Group Protested Against It
Just two years after the parade’s launch, the Allied Patriotic Societies had their angst upon it. They called in to cancel this because most churchgoers would be prevented from participating in the holy Thanksgiving Day worship and related rituals.
After that, the parade was allowed. Percy Strauss, an associate to Macy, offered a logical explanation of how people would still find time to attend the church after watching and participating in the parade.
Massive Floats Are Assembled At The Site
It would not have been possible to fly the giant floats of the parade across Hudson River towards Manhattan from the parade studio. For this reason, parts of the finished floats are packed in boxes measuring 12 feet by 8 feet. Then, they ship it via the Lincoln Tunnel towards the staging location of the parade. Finally, the reassembling happens at the site.
For those who didn’t know, there was a talented group of balloon makers termed ‘The Balloonatics’ who religiously make these very artistic creations, the floats. Alongside, there are balloons and other props that form a pivotal part of the parade. Since 1969, this practice has been prevalent, and there has been no change to date. The artists work at the studio in New Jersey.
Wingman Who Kept Waiting
Amazing as it may sound, but there‘s a huge balloon that has not gone down since 1971! Though gusting winds have often caused balloons to clash with lampposts and even injured passersby- the strength with which they are fixed deserves mention.
Almost every balloon has a team of handlers who walk beneath and a pilot who walks before. The pilot keeps a check on the wind and can even issue orders to handlers to control these balloons, and if required, deflate too. After all, no one likes the idea of causing hazards to parade-goers.
Felix The Cat Came First
In the early years, a specific balloon-filed float called ‘The Ballonataics’ made its entry in the parade. Inspired by that, these balloons then replaced lay animals in the show since 1927. Felix the Cat was the first balloon attraction based on a famous cartoon character and flown above city streets.
And you thought it’s easy to catch a mouse! You would never know how powerful Mickey would be if you didn’t catch up with the 40-by-23-feet balloon of Mickey Mouse that 25 handlers managed. This structure made its first appearance at the Macy’s parade in 1934.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day has a different place in most parade attendees’ hearts. And we understand why it is so. We can say that you have to visit it to understand how surreal the parade feels!