A Thanksgiving institution for 85 years, the world famous Macy’s parade is a very impressive spectacle including enormous balloon creatures and numerous celebrities. In the US, it is also the official kick off of the holiday season as Santa makes his first appearance in the streets of New York.
The parade begins at 9am at Central Park West and West 77th Street. After a 3 hours route, it ends at the Macy's flagship store at Seventh Avenue and West 34th Street.
I learned on Wikipedia and the Macy’s parade Website that the origin of the event dates back to the 1920s, when many of Macy's department store employees were first-generation immigrants. These people were so proud of their new American heritage that they decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with the type of festival their parents had grown up with in Europe.
Here are some historical interesting facts:
- The firsts parades’ stars were animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo (it was surely very cool!).
- The large balloons that we know replaced the live animals, which were considered too terrifying for children, in 1927.
- At the finale of the 1928 parade, the balloons were released into the sky where they unexpectedly burst (!!!).
- After redesigning the balloons with safety valves to allow them to float for a few days, Macy’s put address labels into them; whoever found and mailed back the discarded balloon received a gift from the store.
- The parade was suspended 1942–1944 during World War II, owing to the need for rubber and helium in the war effort. The parade resumed in 1945.
3 tips if you ever decide to go next year: get up early, bring warm clothes and blankets and spot a place where there is a subway grate (heat comes up from there). Believe me, even on a perfect sunny day like today, it was freezing!