As New Yorkers, we’re all familiar with the most well-known parade in the country. It’s watched by millions upon millions of Americans, and we all anxiously await the arrival of Santa at the end of the festivities. However, how much do we really know about our beloved New York City parade?

5 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Facts

Tango’s sharing some fun facts about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Cartoon animal characters around a large table enjoying a meal together

Originally called Macy’s Christmas Parade

Back in the early 1920s, Macy’s wanted to promote their New York flagship store’s expansion. The first parade in 1924 was called the Macy’s Christmas Parade, and had costumed characters, with floats and live animals from the Central Park Zoo.


The average number of handlers needed for wrangle a balloon: 90. Even crazier, because of the size and weight of the balloons, handles must be at least 120 pounds. It’s also probably a good idea to have a healthy heart, and be in good physical shape.


Back in 1924, the original Macy’s Christmas Parade didn’t have balloons, as stated above. Balloons didn’t arrive until 1927, and that was Felix the Cat. The beloved Snoopy character from Peanuts arrived in 1968.

Prep Work

Since the balloons take hours to inflate, the process starts the night before at a designated area near Central Park West and the American Museum of Natural History. Many local New Yorkers have made a tradition of watching the balloons be inflated. Even someone who works at Tango, Tango & Tango.


The parade happens rain, or shine. However, Manhattan has a policy that if winds are stronger than 23 mph and wind gusts are higher than 34 mph, balloons aren’t allowed in the parade. Why? Well, back in 1997 the Cat in the Hat balloon was blown into a lamp post, and hurt four parade watchers. And the cold doesn’t stop the parade, either. Last year was the coldest Thanksgiving on record at 19 degrees. Performers were told to bundle up, keep their ears and noses covered to avoid frostbite. Oh, and they were told to throw on those gloves, too!
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