Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Since 1927, Macy's department store—the self-described largest emporium (retail store) of its type in the world—has sponsored a happy American ritual. Each Thanksgiving morning, Macy's subsidizes an elaborate parade. It assembles at West 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan and begins promptly at 9 a.m. Thousands of New Yorkers and tourists brave the cold late-November winds to watch the parade. It moves down Central Park West to Columbus Circle, and then runs along Broadway to Macy's Herald Square, at West 33rd Street.

The parade consists of large, intricately designed floats, marching bands, entertainers, and helium-filled cartoon-creature balloons that are several stories high. The balloon figures include everything from the generic Toy Soldier and Tom the Turkey to characters popular with children, such as Big Bird from Sesame Street (see entry under 1970s—TV and Radio in volume 4), Barney (see entry under 1990s—TV and Radio in volume 5), Mickey Mouse from Disney (see entry under 1920s—Film and Theater in volume 2), and Snoopy from the comic strip Peanuts (see entry under 1950s—Print Culture in volume 3). The first cartoon character depicted in the parade's large balloons was Felix the Cat (see entry under 1910s—Film and Theater in volume 1).

Not only does the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade usher in the Christmas holiday season, but it serves as a reminder of the store's history, and its status as a great American emporium.

—Rob Edelman

For More Information

"Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade." (accessed on January 22, 2002)

"75 Years of Holiday Magic: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade." New YorkHistorical Society. (accessed January 22, 2002).