27 November 1924: Macy’s first Thanksgiving Day parade

On this day in 1924, New York department store Macy's held its first Thanksgiving Day parade. It would soon become a city institution, kicking off the run-up to Christmas.

For millions of Americans, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is as traditional as eating candied yams and pumpkin pie. Its origins go back to 1924, when the first parade was held. But back then, it was feted as the Macy's Christmas parade, and like today, it heralded the beginning of the festive season.

In the 1920s, Macy's department store in New York employed many first-generation immigrants to the United States. They wanted to show their new-found love for all things American with an extravaganza rooted in European traditions. On Thanksgiving Thursday 1924, the first parade featured colourful horse-drawn floats, marching bands and elephants from the Central Park zoo.

In 1927, the animals were given the day off when the first giant floating balloons appeared – a hallmark of the celebrations to the present day. A giant Felix The Cat, made by Goodyear, floated above the cheering crowds. Past balloons have included Mickey Mouse in 1934, Popeye in 1957 and Betty Boop in 1985. Snoopy, sometimes accompanied by Woodstock, has made numerous appearances over the years and is perhaps the character most closely associated with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

These days, it takes about a year to design, model and build the balloons. Then all the balloons are brought together for “balloonfest”, when they are given a final test flight before the big day. 

Recommended

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain
This day in history

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain

On this day in 1999, the national minimum wage was introduced in Britain, bringing an instant pay rise to 1.9 million low-paid workers.
1 Apr 2021
27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021
24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
This day in history

24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement

On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer made their engagement official in front of the world's press at Buckingham Palace.
24 Feb 2021
24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down
This day in history

24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down

On this day in 1809, celebrated playwright Richard Sheridan was effectively ruined when the Drury Lane theatre went up in smoke.
24 Feb 2021

Most Popular

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it
Bitcoin

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it

The cryptocurrency’s price has soared far beyond its fundamentals, says Matthew Partridge. Here, he looks at how to short bitcoin.
12 Apr 2021
Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?
Bitcoin

Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?

As bitcoin continues to soar in value, many of the world’s central banks are looking to emulate it by issuing their own digital currencies. But centra…
8 Apr 2021
Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now
Investment trusts

Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now

Some high-yielding listed lending funds have come through the crisis with flying colours. David Stevenson picks four of the best.
12 Apr 2021