Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of every November and it is a time for the whole family to get together and to give thanks for the blessings and the things that they are appreciative and thankful for.
As well as the wonderful array of food that is shared with family and friends, one of the ways that people enjoy this day is to go and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which takes place in New York and is also televised for all to see.
The Origins of a Department Store Parade
It was actually another department store that started the whole tradition of the holiday parade. Gimbels Department store was a Philadelphia based retail outlet and they held the first parade in 1920. Although the original store has now closed down, this parade is still going strong but is now known as the abc-IKEA Parade.
When Did Macy’s Parade Start?
This is a very popular activity dates back to 1924. Many of the workers for the store were immigrants. They were very proud of becoming American citizens and wanted to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in a way that was similar and reminiscent to the celebrations that were held in the countries of their parents back in Europe.
The original parade was called The Macy’s Christmas Day Parade and involved a mixture of employees and professional entertainers. Complete with colourful floats, animals borrowed from the local zoo and people dressed in wonderful costumes, people marched from Harlem all the way to the store on 34th street.
The event was such a huge success that Macy’s decided to hold this parade every year since then and it has just got bigger and better and has now become a televised event so that even more people can enjoy this special occasion.
The tradition of using giant balloons in the parade was introduced in 1927. At this time animal shaped balloons replaced the use of live animals. These provided a fantastic visual effect. Now the balloons represent all sorts of images including cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and Goofy as well as the newer additions of Buzz Lightyear and Shrek.
The parade was a very popular event for all those that lived in the area but it truly became a part of American culture when it was featured in the hugely successful 1947 movie called Miracle on 34th Street.
The Televising of the Event
1948 was the first year that the Thanksgiving Day Parade was televised nationally. Following its success, this has become an annual show that now lasts up to 3 hours and is currently broadcast by NBC.
As well as the parade, this holiday celebration also features performances by singers and also excerpts from musical theatre shows currently performing on Broadway.
Some would say that a Thanksgiving Day is not complete without watching the Thanksgiving parade. If you are in the area, it is definitely a wonderful event to experience but you can still enjoy the festivities from the comfort of your home where ever you live.