Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual celebration in New York City that brings forth the Christmas season with an unrivaled fervor. The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1924. Having seen its ups and downs through depression and wars, the event has been televised in households across the United States since the 1950s. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a true American tradition.
The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in 1924, according to the official Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade website. Featuring animals from the Central Park Zoo, the parade was such an immediate success, it was deemed to be an annual event from then on. According to Robert M. Grippo and Christopher Hoskins, authors of the book "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," many people employed by Macy's at that time were European immigrants who wished to celebrate American holidays in a way that was familiar to them; one of these ways included parades.
In the 1920s, the first few Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades included people in costume, animals from the local zoo, and rolling floats. Large helium-filled balloons made their debut in 1927, according to the official site. During the early years, balloons would be released into the air at the parade's end. Once the balloons fell back to Earth, New Yorkers who found them could claim a prize.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade ceased to exist from the early 1940s through 1945. With war waging in Europe, the parade was canceled. Resources had to be managed and wasting helium and rubber would be a hindrance to the war effort. At the war's end in 1945, the parade resumed and began the route that existed through 2009. In the1950s the event became nationally televised.
1980s through the 21st Century
Many new balloons and parade attractions were introduced in the 1980s, according to Grippo and Hoskins. The Fraggles made their debut in 1983 and Raggedy Ann and Garfield came the following year. Phyllis Diller dressed as Cinderella--accompanied by Erik Estrada dressed as Prince Charming--also made an appearance during the 1983 parade.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade got through its first snowstorm in 1989. With the booming popularity of the internet and video games, the 1990s saw floats of contemporary, recognizable characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog from the Sega video game and Jeeves from the Ask Jeeves search engine.
In 2009, the parade route was changed to eliminate Broadway completely, starting at 77th Street and Central Park West and ending at 7th Avenue. The change allowed for more space for parade workers and viewers.
According to Time Magazine, the 2008 parade had over 3.5 million in attendance and 50 million watching on television from their home. With the parade's massive presence, misfortune has been fairly well avoided during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. According to Time Magazine, tragedy struck twice during the 1990s. In 1993, a minor mishap occurred when "Sonic the Hedgehog broke an off-duty policeman's shoulder."
However, in 1997, another incident occurred when "43-mph winds blew The Cat in the Hat into a lamppost, causing the metal arm to fall off and hit 33-year-old Kathleen Caronna on the head." She went into a coma and was hospitalized for a month. Caronna sued Macy's, as well as New York City, for $395 million. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.