The parade has been an American tradition for nearly 100 years with millions of viewers all over the country visiting New York or tuning in to watch oversized characters float amongst the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Characters include ‘Snoopy’, ‘Garfield’ and the ‘Pink Panther’. It is said that ‘Snoopy’ is the most popular and regular character year after year!
In 1924, Macy’s department store put on the first parade with professional bands and live animals that were borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. Elephants, donkeys, tigers, camels and bears were paraded down the streets of New York City for the crowd’s enjoyment.
By 1928, live animals were switched with the famous larger than life balloons. After the parade, the balloons were released into the sky and burst. After that incident, balloons were fitted with slow-release valves and floated over the city for a few days after the parade until they eventually came down. Imagine the sight of the large balloons bobbing loosely all over the city! They had return address labels on them, requesting to be mailed back to Macy’s. If you mailed one back, you got a gift!
To this day, the parade touts big name singers, bands and the casts of Broadway shows with over the top performances on the front steps of Macy’s where the parade terminates. It is the official start to the holiday season in New York City!