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.
Animals and employees from the Central Park Zoo made up the first Macy’s parade, which was held in 1924. Source:
Felix the Cat, the first character balloon debuted at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, made his first appearance in 1927. Source:
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:
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 (real name: Washington Irving) meanders through the streets of New York. Source:
A hippo balloon delights thousands of people who crowd to catch a glimpse of the parade. Source:
Spectators fill the streets to catch a glimpse of the Thanksgiving parade. Source:
We Sleep in Tents
In 1938, this fish balloon floated through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source:
A balloon designed after singer Eddie Cantor floats through the 1940 Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source:
In 1954, Tootsie Rolls used the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to attract more customers. Source:
The beloved Rockettes perform at the 1958 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source:
Both a pilgrim and a panda made it into this Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Source:
Children gather in the streets of New York to watch the 1961 Thanksgiving parade. Source:
The Weather Channel
The Kilgore College Rangerettes perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1967. Source:
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:
Pinocchio and his massive nose were literally larger than life in this parade. Source:
Want to see what the parade looked like in 1939 and 1954? We've got you covered: