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Facts You Might Not Know About the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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    It's about to be here again. The iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will once again grace TV screens all across the country. Like many Americans, I've watched it every year since I can remember. Even if you're not a parade person, I think it's pretty entertaining still. If gigantic balloons don't do it for you, then there's the large marching bands, and the floats. I think the shorts they do from Broadway shows are fun to watch.

    It's been around for almost 100 years, and anything that old has most definitely changed and evolved with each passing decade, or year for that matter. Here are some facts about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that you might not have known before.

    1. The parade was initially Christmas themed, and it was called the "Macy’s Christmas Parade”

    2. The parade's original ending was the unveiling of the Macy's Christmas window displays.

    3. Some people objected to the parade early on.

    "Allied Patriotic Societies protested, telling Macy’s that it shouldn’t hold the event on Thanksgiving because “it would interfere with Thanksgiving Day worship,”

    4. It wasn't New York City's first Thanksgiving parade.

    5. The parade's iconic character balloons were inspired by a float that was festooned by balloons.

    6. The character balloons debuted in 1927.

    7. For a few years, there were balloon races where they would release the balloons into the air.

    "That year (1928), Macy’s released five huge figures—an elephant, a 60-foot tiger, a plumed bird, an “early bird” trailing worms, and a 25-foot-high ghost—into the sky. While the majority of the balloons in the parade used regular air to stay afloat, these figures were built around helium balloon bodies, which were designed to slowly leak the gas. As The New York Times explained, “The figures are expected to rise to 2000 to 3000 feet and are timed by a slow leak to stay aloft for a week to 10 days. By then it is expected they will have alighted in various parts of the country.” Whoever returned the balloons would receive a $100 reward."

    8. The last balloon race was held in 1932.

    9. The parade was broadcast for the first time in 1932.

    10. Mickey Mouse's balloon had it's debut in 1934.

    11. Parade floats used to be pulled by horses.

    12. The parade was halted during World War II.

    13. A helium shortage almost grounded the parade's balloons.

    14. Strong winds caused the balloons to be grounded in 1971.

    15. One long-lasting dinosaur balloon was placed in the American Museum of Natural History for a time.

    16. Thanks to the parade, Macy's is a major world consumer of helium.

    So were there any facts that stuck out to you the most? I had no clue they used to "race" the balloons. Letting one of those gargantuan balloons lose would be an FAA nightmare today.

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    JFoster Wrote:

    So were there any facts that stuck out to you the most? I had no clue they used to "race" the balloons. Letting one of those gargantuan balloons lose would be an FAA nightmare today.

    Exactly what I was thinking too. No way they could do that today with all the planes in the air today vs in the 1930s. But I would really like to see it happen. Would be really cool to see gigantic balloons slowly floating across state lines even, days or weeks later.

    Also crazy to think Macy's is one of the world's biggest buyers of helium but it totally makes sense. Good list. Pretty cool to see how they build the balloons too. I'm sure its been even more refined since this video, but a good watch nonetheless:

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    Yeah tell me about it. Seeing the balloons crossing state lines would be a yearly news media traditions. Especially with trackers put on them, it would be like how they "track"Santa every year on the news. Thanks for the video. I knew a lot had to go into making the balloons, but this definitely reminded me of some of the behind the scenes videos I've seen of Disney's Imagineering department.