Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 27, 2014


November 27, 1924: The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is held. During the 1920s, many of the store’s employees were first-generation immigrants and proud of their American heritage. They wanted to celebrate the United States feast of Thanksgiving and harkened back to their parents love of festival back in Europe. Prior to this, Louis Bamberger had held an annual Thanksgiving Day parade in Newark, New Jersey. Bamberger’s parade was transferred to New York City by Macy’s and the employees marched to Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street dressed in costumes. Also included were floats, professional bands, animals borrowed from Central Park Zoo and Santa Claus bringing up the end.

The famous balloons of the parade come in three varieties. The first and oldest class are novelty balloons. These are smaller and some so small they fit on the heads of performers. The largest of these required up to 30 handlers. The next and most famous type are licensed pop-culture full-sized balloons and each takes exactly 90 handlers. The last and most recent type are those which are transformed, full-sized balloons depicting works of contemporary artists. The first balloon to be included was Felix the Cat who made his debut in 1927. Falloons, a float/balloon, made their debut in 1991 with Humpty Dumpty. In 2004, the first balloonicle, a self-powered balloon vehicle, had the Weebles included in the Parade.

Also included are live music and other performances. College and high school marching bands from across the country participate in the event. The television broadcast has performances from famous singers and bands such as The Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall fame. Cheerleaders and dancers chosen by the National Cheerleaders Association are selected from a variety of high schools. The NBC telecast takes place from in front of the Macy’s on Broadway and 34th Street. Most of the “live” performances have artists lip syncing to pre-recorded versions of their work. Singing into a wireless microphone on a moving vehicle remains technically challenging.

More than 44 million people watch the televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was first televised in 1939 as an experimental broadcast. There were no broadcasts in 1940 or 1941 and then the Parade was suspended due to World War II. The Parade returned in 1945 and local broadcasting began with it. Network TV picked it up in 1948 when CBS began to show the parade nationwide. Beginning in 1952 and continuing through to today, NBC has been the broadcaster. CBS has a studio on Times Square and also carries unauthorized coverage. The first few years saw only one hour of coverage and it increased over time so that by 1969, all three hours were shown. It began color broadcasting in 1960. The show is seen across the nation from 9 AM to noon, local time meaning it is only live for Eastern Time zone viewers.

I am so excited this year getting to play the 85th Anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Everyone knows on Thanksgiving morning to get up, turn on the TV and watch the parade, so to be an actual participant is going to be fun and I’m looking forward to it. I am gonna have to put on my deer hunting gear, though, to stay warm! – Rodney Atkins

When I was just starting out in the business, I used to love to watch Lorne Greene doing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I said right then, ‘That’s what I want to do someday,’ and it’s been one dream that has come true. – Willard Scott

A lot of Thanksgiving days have been ruined by not carving the turkey in the kitchen. – Kin Hubbard

I absolutely adore Thanksgiving. It’s the only holiday I insist on making myself. – Ina Garten

Also on this day: First Crusade – In 1095, Pope Urban II calls for European princes to rescue the Holy Lands from desecration by the infidels.
No Twinkies – In 1978, Harvey Milk and George Moscone were murdered.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics – In 1839, the American Statistical Association was formed.
Hung – In 1835, the last executions for homosexuality in England took place at Newgate Prison.

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