The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become as much of an American tradition as turkey and stuffing. Every year since 1924 the streets of New York have been dazzled by floats, marching bands and later, oversized balloons and the Rockettes. These photographs explore the history of what has become one of America’s most beloved parades, now with more than three million New Yorkers watching along the route and an additional 50 million television viewers.
‘Andy the Alligator’ in the 1933 parade seems dwarfed in size compared to the balloons of today.
Mickey Mouse made his first debut in this 1934 parade. The original caption that ran in the NY Daily News for this photo read, the “parade was so large this year it took an hour to pass."
According to the NY Daily News, this 1937 parade featured seven musical organizations, twenty-one floats and balloon units and 400 costumed marchers.
The crew prepare to erect the giant inflatable Macy’s clown for the Macy’s Parade in 1942. It’s still tradition today for New Yorkers to watch the balloons being inflated and prepared the night before the big show.
An NBC camera set up to film the 1945 parade from a rooftop.
Kids were delighted by the clowns and costumes that walked along Central Park West at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, 1949.
This helium-filled Space Cadet, coming in at 70 feet tall, was indicative of the newest adventure interests of America’s kids in 1952.
Not all animals were larger than life balloons. A group of elephants participated in the 1954 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Radio City Rockettes filled stockings on this 1958 parade float.
The Thanksgiving Turkey accompanied by a marching band make their way through Times Square, 1959.
It wouldn’t be the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as we know it without a performance by the Rockettes, 1964.