Festive Balloons of Thanksgiving

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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.

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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.

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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

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