First held on Nov. 27, 1924, the relatively small event was called the Macy's Christmas Parade, and it featured the store's employees, live animals, and a couple thousand spectators. Renamed the Thanksgiving Parade in 1927, the spectacle has evolved over the decades into today's massive, televised event, featuring Broadway acts, movie stars, and gigantic, colorful balloons.
Beginning with Felix the Cat in 1927, those parade balloons have reflected the changing tastes and trends of the national zeitgeist. While characters such as Spider-Man and SpongeBob SquarePants are well known to parade-goers today, the balloons that came before were just as instantly recognizable to the throngs that lined the street in the early 20th century.
|A large outdoor float of Captain Nemo makes its way down the street during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, on Nov. 28, 1929. Originally known as the Macy's Christmas Parade, the Thanksgiving Day parade started in 1924. (AP Photo)|
|A fish balloon is released as the parade nears its end on Broadway in 1929. They were filled with helium and will drift for a week, with a $100 prize awarded for each one recovered. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)|
|The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade passes down Broadway in New York on Nov. 27, 1930. The parade's first giant balloons debuted in 1927. (AP Photo)|
|A Felix the Cat balloon and other parade floats and balloons are led down Broadway during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1930. (Underwood & Underwood/Corbis)|
|A not-too-ferocious dragon caught fancy of crowd at 1931 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, November 21, 1931. (NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images)|
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