Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Fun Facts

Since 1924, Macy's has held annual parades on Thanksgiving Day. First known as the "Macy's Christmas Parade," the name changed a few years later to the "Thanksgiving Day Parade."

Now many onlookers crowd Manhattan's streets each year to see Macy's signature giant floats hover over busy streets.

Below are some fun facts about the parade, which draws millions each year, according to Macy's:

  • Before 1927, Macy's used real animals, including lions, bears, tigers, camels, goats, elephants and donkeys. The animals were  replaced with giant character balloons that have stolen the hearts of many Americans. 
  • From 1929 to 1931, Macy's would release the balloons at the end of the parade. Those who found the balloons could return them to Macy's for a $50 gift certificate. The practice ended when a balloon got caught in a plane's propeller when a pilot was trying to catch it.
  • In 2004, Macy's introduced another new parade innovation called the "balloonicle," a combination of a cold-air balloon and a self-propelled vehicle. Then, 2011 marked the birth of the trycaloon, a balloon that was part tricycle. 
  • The parade was canceled in 1942, 1943 and 1944 because of World War II. 
  • To date, there have been 171 giant character balloons in the parade since 1927. This year, Macy's will feature 17 giant character balloons; 24 novelty, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 27 floats; 12 marching band members; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; and more than 1,000 clowns.

Four new giant balloons will debut in the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New balloons include Red from the Angry Birds game; DINO, the mascot for the Sinclair Oil Corporation; Scrat and his acorn from the movie "Ice Age" and Ronald McDonald.

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