The turkey's in the oven, the pies are set and the family has finally come together to welcome the holiday season. Every year, while kitchens are filled with the aroma of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, the living room is bustling with the enthusiasm of the Macys Thanksgiving Parade.
A tradition, which has now become a synonym to the occasion in itself, has not just the US but the entire world switching on their TV sets to watch the fun fair. While this is the most talked-about event, there are a few things that you may not know about the parade. Here's a list of facts that you may be unaware of:
- The Macys Thanksgiving Parade will be parading down through the streets of New York for the 90th time. The ritual is said to have began in 1924. The idea for the parade actually started with the workers of Macy's, many of whom were immigrants, wanting to show their gratitude for being in America.
- Every year, more than 3.5 million New Yorkers line up to catch a glimpse of the parade while 50 million television viewers tune in to watch the holiday procession.
- The parade, though walking down for the 90th time, did not have 90 consecutive parades. The parade was put on hold during World War II. But when the parade returned, the number of attendees doubled.
- Macy's didn't invent the concept of the yearly parade. The idea originated from Philadelphia Thanksgiving parade. The oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade, Philadelphia's Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade, now known as the 6ABC - Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade, debuted in 1920.
- The traditional colossal cartoon-character balloons were introduced three years after the parade began. Felix the Cat, the cartoon star of the day, was the first balloon to fly through the parade. The balloon did not use helium and was manoeuvred on sticks.
- Ever wanted to catch one of the parade balloons? Well, through the first decade of the parade, Macy's would release the balloons used in the parade into the air and awarded Macy's gift cards to whoever caught and returned them to the store. At times, these balloons have floated for days together. However, this part of the parade ended in 1932, after an eager pilot almost crashed trying to claim the in-flight prize.
- While today you can sit in the comfort of your living room and watch the bright colours come alive through your TV sets, there used to be a time when one could only hear the whole parade. Yes, the parade was broadcast on the radio (in 1932) before it was first telecast on TV (in 1946).
- Walking down the streets of Manhattan on the Eve of Thanksgiving is a tradition many families have incorporated. Carrying numerous shopping bags, holding their kids or just spending the cold night with their dear ones, New Yorkers head to the busy street to watch the parade balloons get inflated. They're inflated at a staging area at 77th Street and Central Park West, near the American Museum of Natural History.
- Most of the members walking down the parade, holding the balloons and other accessories, are most likely Macy's staff and employees. The children that get to participate in the parade are also kids of employees.
- Each year, the floats and balloons become a grander affair with new members added to the list. This time, three new character balloons introduced include Charlie Brown, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and a multi-character Trolls balloon. Felix the Cat, will also be returning, carried on sticks sans helium, just like during his first parade run in 1927.