24 Fantastic Vintage Pictures Of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Published November 26, 2014
Updated March 6, 2018

The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in New York City in 1924. These vintage pictures show just how much the parade has changed since then.

On Christmas Day in 1924, Macy’s employees rounded up professional bands, extravagant floats and animals from the Central Park Zoo, and marched to Macy’s on 34th Street in the first-ever Macy’s Day Parade. Drawing a crowd of about 250,000 people, the company instantly decided that the parade would be an annual event.

Now the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade draws 3.5 million people to the streets of New York City each year, with an additional 50 million watching from the comfort of their own homes. Go back in time to the see the first-ever animal balloon (Felix the Cat) and catch a glimpse of decades-old parade floats in this vintage Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gallery.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 1924
Animals and employees from the Central Park Zoo made up the first Macy’s parade, which was held in 1924. Source: Vintage Everyday

Santa Float in Macy Parade
In 1925, Santa’s float was a crowd favorite. Source: Vintage Everyday

Felix the Cat Vintage Macy's Parade
Felix the Cat, the first character balloon debuted at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, made his first appearance in 1927. Source: Vintage Everyday

Tony Sarg for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Tony Sarg---pictured here with one of his creations---was commissioned by Macy’s Department Store to create many of the parade’s earliest balloons. Source: PRINT

Captain Nemo in Macy's Parade
Captain Nemo at the 1929 parade. Source: Vintage Everyday

Tony Sarg Working on Felix the Cat
An early animal balloon in construction. Source: We Sleep in Tents

Micky Mouse Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Micky Mouse made a splash at the 1934 Thanksgiving parade, just six years after the first Mickey Mouse film was released. Source: Gray Flannel Suit

Father Knickerbocker Parade Balloon
Father Knickerbocker (real name: Washington Irving) meanders through the streets of New York. Source: BuzzFeed

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade History
A hippo balloon delights thousands of people who crowd to catch a glimpse of the parade. Source: Lomography

Crowds Gather at Macy's Parade
Spectators fill the streets to catch a glimpse of the Thanksgiving parade. Source: We Sleep in Tents

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Uncle Sam Balloon
Uncle Sam rounds Columbus Circle in the Macy’s parade. Source: NYC Vintage Images

Vintage Fish Float in Macy's Parade
In 1938, this fish balloon floated through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source: Wired

Superman Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Superman makes an appearance at the 1940 parade. Source: We Sleep in Tents

Eddie Cantor Vintage Thanksgiving Float
A balloon designed after singer Eddie Cantor floats through the 1940 Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source: A.V. Club

1954 Thanksgiving Tootsie Roll Ad
In 1954, Tootsie Rolls used the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to attract more customers. Source: Vintage Ads

Rockettes at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
The beloved Rockettes perform at the 1958 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source: Vintage Everyday

Vintage Parade Pictures
Both a pilgrim and a panda made it into this Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source: Vintage Everyday

Children in New York City 1961
Children gather in the streets of New York to watch the 1961 Thanksgiving parade. Source: The Weather Channel

Popeye at Thanksgiving Parade
Popeye makes an appearance at the 1961 parade. Source: The Weather Channel

Dog Balloon Float in Thanksgiving Parade
A dauchaund balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source: Latin Business Today

Vintage Rangerettes
The Kilgore College Rangerettes perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1967. Source: Top Shelf

Disney Floats Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
In the 1972 parade, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck made their way through the streets of New York to commemorate the first anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort. Source: Disney

Vintage Pinocchio Float
Pinocchio and his massive nose were literally larger than life in this parade. Source: Ranker

Want to see what the parade looked like in 1939 and 1954? We've got you covered:

Kiri Picone
Kiri Picone holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Pepperdine University and has been writing for various digital publishers for more than 10 years.