It's a tradition in the United States. Every Thanksgiving over 40 million people get up early enough to tune in and watch at least part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This parade has become a Thanksgiving tradition for some, right behind eating turkey and watching the Cowboys and Lions play football on TV.
Here are some interesting facts about this parade:
- The first Macy's parade was in 1924 but didn't have balloons. They borrowed animals from the Central Park Zoo.
- Large balloons weren't used until 1927 and Felix the Cat was the first one used.
- Helium was used after the first year. Before that, just regular air was used.
- At first, the helium balloons were released at the end of the parade. The huge balloons had address labels affixed to them. The lucky finder of the large balloons could return them to Macy's for a $100 gift certificate.
- The 1941 parade occurred before the beginning of the US entering World War II. It featured a large Uncle Sam. Once the war began, the balloon was donated to the war effort for it's rubber by Macy's.
- The balloons are inflated by volunteers the night before the parade. They are unfolded, a net is placed over them and they are weighed down. It takes six hours to inflate them.
- Volunteers guide the balloons through the route. Some balloons require 50 volunteers. (Remember the episode of Seinfeld?)
- Bullwinkle is the oldest and most popular balloon used today.
- Mickey Mouse first appeared in 1934. Goofy showed up later.
- Snoopy showed up in the late 1960s and has remained a favorite. He's worn six costumes: astronaut, king, ice skater, WWI flying ace and others.
- Charlie Brown has shown up as well, trying to kick an balloon football.
- Other characters include: Woody Woodpecker, SpongeBob Squarpants, Garfield, The Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny & the Rugrats.
- It's Sesame Street's 40th anniversary. Some of their characters have shown up as well: Big Bird, Kermit and Grover (and Super Grover).
- The biggest balloon ever was Superman. He's appeared at different times since 1940.
- In 1957, Popeye's sailor hat filled with water. It became so heavy that it tipped and spilled water on a number of people.
- In 1958 there was a shortage of helium, so the balloons were filled with regular air and held up with cranes.
- In 1971 Mickey Mouse was cancelled due to high winds and fear his ears would work like sails and blow him away.
- In 1997 the wind blew The Cat in the Hat into a light pole.
- In 2005 the M&Ms hit a light as well and injured some people.
- When does the Christmas season officially start? When Santa arrives at the end of the parade of course.
Well, enjoy the parade. Eat some turkey. Let that chemical in the turkey knock you out and take a good nap and wake up to watch some football. But, in the midst of it all, take the time to thank God for all His blessings. Don't feel very thankful? I believe God can and will remind you of what you can be thankful for on this day. Have a good one.
Here are some classic photos from past parades: