Here are some fun facts and trivia about the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and some parade history:
The parade features around 50 huge, helium-filled character balloons; 33 novelty, balloonicles, balloonheads, and trycaloons; more than two dozen floats and marching bands; more than 1,300 cheerleaders/dancers; and 1000 clowns.
And, of course, Santa Claus.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia
The first Parade in 1924 was called “Macy’s Christmas Parade” although it took place on Thanksgiving Day. It was later renamed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Live animals including lions, bears, tigers, camels, goats, elephants and donkeys were a part of the original Parade processions.
Giant helium balloons first appeared in the Parade in 1927, replacing the live animals that once participated in the Parade.
That first year, the balloons were filled with air and held up with sticks. Since the following year, 1928, helium has been used to fill the balloons and hold them in the air.
In 1958, a helium shortage forced the balloons to be inflated with air. They were hoisted up with cranes for the Parade.
The balloons were the original creation of Tony Sarg, a Macy’s designer and famous puppeteer.
Felix the Cat, The Dragon, The Elephant and Toy Soldier were among the first balloons in the Parade.
From 1928-1933, the giant balloons were released at the end of the Parade.
Some signature Macy’s balloons featured in the Parade:
- “Falloons” – introduced in the 1980s – cold air balloon + float
- “Balloonicle” – introduced in 2004 – cold air balloon + self-propelled vehicle
- “Tricyloons” – introduced in 2011 – cold air balloon + tricycle
It takes between 30 and 100 balloon handlers to escort the Parade’s giant helium balloons along the Parade route.
Santa Claus has ended the Macy’s Parade every year with the exception of 1933, the only year in which he led the Parade.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was canceled in 1942, 1943 and 1944 due to World War II.
In 1947, the 20th Century Fox’s holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street, brought Macy’s Parade magic to theatres worldwide.
In 1969, Macy’s Parade Studio was created to bring in-house the design and construction of the Parade’s elements. First housed in a former Tootsie Roll factory in Hoboken, New Jersey. In 2011, the Studio moved to a custom-designed facility in Moonachie, New Jersey.
In 1989, the Parade marched through its very first snowstorm.
This article was first posted in 2014 and is updated and republished annually