Festive Balloons of Thanksgiving


The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began floating down 7th Avenue in 1924 and, probably to put parade spectators (to wit: holiday shoppers) into a buying frame of mind, was originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade. There were, however, no huge balloons in the parade’s first three seasons; instead, live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo drew in the crowds. While a menagerie of lions, tigers and bears, along with a herd of goats and donkeys, may have been a success among the adults, many children were terrified by the animals, forcing Macy’s to replace them with giant character balloons in 1927.


Between 1928 and 1933, the balloons were allowed to float away when they reached the end of the parade route. Rewards were offered by Macy’s to anyone finding either a whole or partial piece of a landed balloon. In 1947, Miracle on 34th Street made the parade famous throughout the world; the film was broadcast on the fledgling medium television the very next year.


The balloon photos on this post are circa 1960-5 when my parents brought me to the parade. Personally, I would’ve enjoyed the live animals much better because the balloons actually scared me!!! Maybe it was because I saw every larger-than-life balloon as a potential Hindenburg just waiting to explode. Then again, I was really a dumb kid…what did I know?

Happy Thanksgiving to All,

Michael & Steffie