vintage, nostalgia and memories


November 17, 2017

30 Vintage Photographs of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons and Floats From the Late 1920s to the 1960s

First held on Nov. 27, 1924, the relatively small event was called the Macy's Christmas Parade, and it featured the store's employees, live animals, and a couple thousand spectators. Renamed the Thanksgiving Parade in 1927, the spectacle has evolved over the decades into today's massive, televised event, featuring Broadway acts, movie stars, and gigantic, colorful balloons.


Beginning with Felix the Cat in 1927, those parade balloons have reflected the changing tastes and trends of the national zeitgeist. While characters such as Spider-Man and SpongeBob SquarePants are well known to parade-goers today, the balloons that came before were just as instantly recognizable to the throngs that lined the street in the early 20th century.

A large outdoor float of Captain Nemo makes its way down the street during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, on Nov. 28, 1929. Originally known as the Macy's Christmas Parade, the Thanksgiving Day parade started in 1924. (AP Photo)

A fish balloon is released as the parade nears its end on Broadway in 1929. They were filled with helium and will drift for a week, with a $100 prize awarded for each one recovered. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade passes down Broadway in New York on Nov. 27, 1930. The parade's first giant balloons debuted in 1927. (AP Photo)

A Felix the Cat balloon and other parade floats and balloons are led down Broadway during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1930. (Underwood & Underwood/Corbis)

A not-too-ferocious dragon caught fancy of crowd at 1931 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, November 21, 1931. (NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images)

This blind pig is not a speakeasy. He's coming from the 1932 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And don't let that perspective fool you. Mr. Pig is not really over Empire State Building. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

A soldier is marching straight at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1932. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

This is a scene from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade along Broadway in New York City on Nov. 30, 1933. (AP Photo)

Gulliver The Gullible was one of stars of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1933. Here he is passing 98th Street and Broadway. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

This is a photo of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Broadway in New York City on Nov. 30, 1933. (AP Photo)

This giant Mickey Mouse balloon, shown tied to dirigible at Glendale in 1934, Calf., was a feature of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, escorting Santa Claus into New York. Twenty-five men were be required to handle it. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Balloons float down Broadway in thirteenth annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, November 25, 1937. (Photo by Walter Kelleher/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Sea serpent swoops down on crowds watching thirteenth annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on Broadway and 56th St., November 25, 1937. (Walter Kelleher/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images)

The Tin Man flies high in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1939. (Photo by Joe Costa/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Dopey Clown and a hippo in Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day parade trundles down Central Park West in 1940. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

A helium inflated Superman rises over Times Square to lead the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1940. According to Macy's, in 1929, a newly added safety valve allowed helium to slowly seep out of the balloons as they floated above the city's streets. (AP Photo/File)

Empire State Building forms a background for this helium-filled clown floating along 34th Street in Macy Parade in 1945. (Photo by Art Whittaker/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

This was the scene at Times Square in New York during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, Nov. 23, 1945. It's the first parade since the festivities were suspended with the war in 1941. Here, the Teddy Bear passes a reproduction of the Statue of Liberty. (AP Photo)

A giant baseball player float moves down 7th Avenue during the Macy' Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 28, 1946. (AP Photo/John Rooney)

A huge balloon in the form of comic fireman floats over Broadway during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Nov. 25, 1948.(AP Photo/John Rooney)

A helium-filled alligator is hauled through Times Square during Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1949. The parade drew an estimated 2,000,000 spectators. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Helium-filled rubber space man, 70 feet tall, indicative of the latest adventure interest of America's kids, bobs along in 27th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, November 26, 1953. (Nick Sorrentino/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images)

Mighty Mouse makes a spectacle of himself at Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on November 22, 1956. (Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images)

Popeye, the sailor, flexes his muscles as he gets ready to parade in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1957. Popeye stands 56 feet tall, 32 feet wide and he's filled with 6,000 cubic feet of helium. Thirteen bands will provide music for march. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

A giant turkey float squeezes between buildings as the 31st annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade moves down Broadway near 37th Street in New York, Nov. 28, 1957. (AP Photo/John Lindsay)

Helium-filled Popeye balloon figure floats above some of the 1,300,000 persons watching the 33rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade pass through Times Square, New York, November 26, 1959. (AP Photo)

A big-headed dragon sails over Columbus Circle in 1961. (Photo by Gordon Rynders/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Comedian Jimmy Durante rides on a Jumbo the elephant float during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Nov. 22, 1962. (AP Photo)

Donald floats down the street in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1962. (Photo by Gordon Rynders/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Workers fill Superman with helium for Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1966. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)



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