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Macy's Christmas Parade in New York Route

Updated on February 9, 2013

History of Macy's Parade

In the early 1920s many of Macy's stores employed first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving with the type of festivities their parents enjoyed back in Europe.

In 1924, the inaugural parade, formerly known as Macy's Christmas Parade then later renamed the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Christmas Parade, was staged by the store. Macy's employees and professional entertainers marched from 145th Street, in Harlem, to Macy's flagship store on 34th street dressed in colorful and unique costumes. Of course, this parade also included floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the zoo. During each parade throughout Macy's history, Santa Clause was welcomed into Herald Square. At the first parade, however, the Jolly Old Elf was enthroned on Macy's balcony at the 34th Street store entrance, where he was crowned as "King of the Kiddies." The first parade generated an audience of over a quarter of a million, which labeled it a huge success for Macy's. Hence, Macy's declared it would become an annual event.

The large animal-shaped balloons produced by "Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company" in Akron, Ohio, replaced the live animals in 1927, when the "Felix the Cat" balloon made it's triumphant debut. Although Felix was filled with air, during this particular parade, by the next year, helium was used instead to fill the expanding cast of balloons.

At the finale of the 1928 parade, balloons were released into the air where they would unexpectedly burst. The following year they were redesigned with safety valves, so they could float for a few days. Address labels were sewn into them, so whoever found these discarded balloons, could mail them back back and receive a gift from Macy's.

Going into the 1930s, the parade's popularity increased substantially; generating over one million lining the parade route, in 1933. The first balloon of Mickey Mouse entered the parade in 1934. The annual event was broadcast on the local New York radio from 1932 to 1941, then continued in 1945 to 1951.

During 1942-1944, the parade was temporarily suspended to provide rubber and helium in the war effort, during World War II. In 1945, the parade resumed again, using the route that it followed until 2008.

Of course in 1947, the parade became a permanent part of American culture after being prominently featured in the classic movie, "Miracle on 34th Street", which shows actual footage of the parade in 1946.

Macy's also sponsors smaller parades such as "Celebrate the Season" in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, held two days after the main event. However, that's not to say that Macy's is the only corporate sponsored parade out there, as there are others. Other cities in the United States also have parades on Thanksgiving, but they're not sponsored by Macy's. The nation's longest running Thanksgiving parade, formerly known as "The Gimbels parade" (currently called 6abc-Ikea) was first held in Philadelphia in 1920. Other cities have the "McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade" in such places like Chicago, Illinois; Plymouth, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; Houston, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Fountain Hills, Arizona. A parade is also held at the two Disney theme parks, in the United States.

In 2006, new safety measures were incorporated to prevent accidents and balloon related injuries. One of the measures taken was installation of wind measurement devices, to alert parade organizers to any unsafe conditions, that could cause the balloon to behave erratically. Another precaution, parade officials implemented was a measure to keep balloons closer to the ground during adverse weather conditions like strong winds.

Although Macy's parades are hardly the only parade going on in this country, it's certainly the most prestigious and well known. Over the years, due to various exposure, one could say that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Christmas Parade has become a part of American pop culture.

show route and directions
A marker145th street harlem -
W 145th St, New York, NY, USA
get directions

B marker34th street harlem -
34th St, Queens, NY, USA
get directions

C markerharlem -
Harlem, New York, NY, USA
get directions


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    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 3 years ago


    • profile image

      Pharmd494 3 years ago

      Very nice site! cheap goods

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 7 years ago

      Yeah, I agree. it is kind of expensive, but I do love watching the parade on tv every year. Anyways, thanks for stopping by schoolgirl, as it's always a privilege to see you. :)

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 7 years ago

      Macy's is a nice store but it's too expensive :( !!!

      The Macy's parade is something I always watched on tv and thought I'd like to go to.

      Interesting Hub! :)

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 7 years ago


      I know. It always seems like the older you get, time flies quicker doesn't it? I just hate that. lol. Oh well, what can you do? Thanks again for visiting me, and I hope you have a great holiday. :)


      Your quite welcome, and thank you for stopping by. :)

    • wilsontom profile image

      wilsontom 7 years ago from new delhi

      as i cant come and watch the parade i hope this unique parade will make you rejoice...thanks for sharing.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey Steven, I just scrolled to the end of this hub where the videos of Shrek & Charlie Brown are. Fun! Thanksgiving is right around the corner and then Christmas! Yikes, how did the time fly so quickly? I'll be talking with you again, soon. :)

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 7 years ago

      Aw thanks Diane. That truly means a lot coming from you, as I do value your opinion a lot. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a great holiday, in case I don't see you for a while....

      Yours Truly,

      Steven :)

    • Diane Inside profile image

      Diane Inside 7 years ago

      I never would have thought about the Macy's Christmas Parade. I loved this hub, you are so imaginative, I love to see what you might be up to next. Yours Truly Diane

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 7 years ago


      Thanks Lyria. I appreciate you saying that, and thank you for stopping by. I know what you mean. I always wanted to see one of those parades in person too, but I never had the chance to. Anyways, I hope you have a happy holiday okay. :)


      Thanks Denise. Thanks for the warm compliments, as I'm glad you liked the hub. I appreciate you stopping by again. Hope you have a very merry christmas okay. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey Steven-nice hub with cool photos! I enjoyed reading the history. Thanks for providing some interesting facts. :)

    • Lyria profile image

      Lyria 7 years ago

      Nice hub! One of these days I will make it to the Macy's Parade in NYC. I always watch it on TV but it would be fun to attend in person at least once.