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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

image of macy's day parade

On November 27, 1924 over 400 Macy's department store employees marched down Covenant Avenue dressed as clowns, sheiks, knights and cowboys. Many were first-generation immigrants and they wanted to celebrate their new American heritage by having a parade.

For the last 78 years, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has marched through rain, sun, wind and even the snowstorm of 1989. It has only been cancelled three times, during World War II.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has not only brought worldwide fame to the department store, but also made it the world's second largest consumer of helium. The giant helium balloons have been used in the parade every year since 1927, except in 1958 when air-filled balloons were carried by cranes due to a helium shortage.

Originally, the balloons were released into the air at the end of the parade and those who retrieved them received a cash prize. That tradition, however, had flaws.

In 1927, four balloons exploded right after they were released. A few years later, the Dachshund Balloon, which landed in the East River, was torn by people who wanted to get the reward. The practice of releasing balloons ended in 1933 when an aviator almost crashed into Broadway in an attempt to catch the Cat Balloon.

This year the parade will present four new giant balloons, including Charlie Brown, Little Bill, Mr. Monopoly, and Uncle Sam. Also, Kermit the Frog will make a comeback after being retired in 1983. Seven new floats will feature Barney, The Marion-Carol Showboat, A Christmas Carol, Angelina Ballerina's dance class, and a Hershey candy factory. Also, 1000 cheerleaders, 500 clowns, 12 bands, and over 4,000 Macy's employees will march in the parade.

The parade starts at Central Park West and 77th Street at 9 a.m. on Thursday, November 28, and ends at Herald Square at 34th Street and Broadway.

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