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Here’s How the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Looked the Year You Were Born

You won't be able to resist this album of vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade photos.

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Santa Claus rides a parade float pulled by a team of horses down Broadway Street in this vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade photo.Bettmann/Getty Images


The first-ever Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in 1924. Even in the ’20s, Macy’s was proud to present a holiday spectacle! Create your own holiday spectacle with these 1920s Christmas recipes.

P.S. Here’s how to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in 2022.

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Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Photo from 1929Underwood Archives/Getty Images


You’ll be blown away by what used to happen with the balloons at the end of the parade.

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Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Photo with Hippo Balloon from 1931Bettmann/Getty Images


The floats have changed a lot over the decades.

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Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade PhotoBettmann/Getty Images


Look at the crowds lining the streets to see this crocodile float. (Or is it an alligator?)

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Hippo Balloon Floating at the Thanksgiving Day Parade 1940Bettmann/Getty Images


Look carefully at the marquee in the background—Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator premiered in 1940.

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Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Photo from 1941Bettmann/Getty Images


After the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1941, the event went on hiatus when Macy’s “enlisted” in the war effort. The rubber used to make the balloons was donated to make tires for tanks and life rafts.

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The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade at Times Square in New York City, 22nd November 1945. Giant balloons are led down the street by attendants, past sidewalks crowded with spectators.Bettmann/Getty Images


This teddy bear floats along the parade route in 1945, the first parade to return after World War II.

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Teddy Bear Balloon in Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Photo from 1949Bettmann/Getty Images


Macy’s giant character balloons are traditionally flown by 80 to 100 handlers!

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A giant toy soldier is the giant figure moving down a Manhattan avenue in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on November 24, 1950.Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images


Macy’s marched this toy solider down the street for the parade in 1950. This year, look for the Pillsbury Doughboy, SpongeBob SquarePants and a rescue pup from Paw Patrol.

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New York: The sidewalks around Time Square are packed with spectators as clowns and a band lead the way for Mighty Mouse's appearance on the Broadway scene in Macy's Thanksgiving extravaganza. 1951Bettmann/Getty Images


Mighty Mouse powered his way down the route in rough weather.

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Macy's 1955 Thanksgiving Day Parade passes Times Square in New York City.Bettmann/Getty Images


This futuristic float is a perfect fit for the dawn of the Space Age.

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1956-New York, NY: Photo taken at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City shows a large balloon of a Thanksgiving turkey being led down the street.Bettmann/Getty Images


The iconic turkey float will definitely make an appearance on your Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade bingo card. Learn more about parade bingo and other unusual Thanksgiving traditions.

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New York: Thanksgiving Day - Macy's Parade. Spaceman Balloon Held Up By Crane Moves Down Broadway. Towering Spaceman balloon, held by crane, wins out-of-this-world admiration from young and old at Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.Bettmann/Getty Images


The parade is an annual “love letter and gift” from Macy’s to the City of New York. Look at the crowds lining the street in this vintage Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade photo!

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Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo shows the "Turkey" one of the helium filled balloons on it's way through Times Square. 1959Bettmann/Getty Images


Shirley Temple Black was the “Princess” of 1959’s parade.

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vintage macy's thanksgiving day parade in new york, 1960Eugene KAMMERMAN/Getty Images


The parade host in 1960? None other than Bob Hope!

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Rollerskating teens during the Macy's Day Parade at Thanksgiving in New York City, 26th November 1961. The sign behind reads 'Macy's Presents a Fantasy of Christmas in New York'.Archive Photos/Getty Images


The giant floats were an iconic part of every vintage Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but there were plenty of other performers, as well.

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A giant Bullwinkle float looms over the crowd in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Despite the weather, a large crowd came out to see the parade on a rainy Thanksgiving Day. 1962Bettmann/Getty Images


The parade added new character balloons to its lineup in the ’60s, including Bullwinkle J. Moose from The Bullwinkle Show.

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New York: Larger Than Life. Members of the "ground crew" appear to have their hands full as they prepare to "launch" Dino the Dinosaur, a feature of the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade, November 28th. Launching site was Central Park West in the seventies, where a huge net keeps Dino anchored.Bettmann/Getty Images


President John F. Kennedy was assassinated just four days before 1963’s parade. But the Kennedy family called Macy’s to ask that the show still go on—for the children.

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A tortoise float makes its way down the street near Columbus Circle in this vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade photo from November 28, 1974.Newsday LLC/Getty Images


The tortoise float slowly but surely made its way along the parade route.

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The float of the cartoon character "Underdog" hovers over the crowd gathered to watch the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.Bettmann/Getty Images


Each enormous inflatable has a “flight team” to lead the balloon along the parade route. That team includes balloon handlers, a captain who coordinates the costumes and a pilot who walks backward for the entire parade route to make sure the balloon is flying at the right height.

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New York, New York: A giant inflatable balloon of Kermit the Frog makes its way down the parade route during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.Bettmann/Getty Images


The show won its second Daytime Emmy for the 1982 NBC broadcast. About 80 million viewers watched the parade on TV that year!

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Elevated view of a Pink Panther balloon (wearing a 'Macy's Life Guard' inner tube) during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York, New York, November 25, 1986. A visible billboard advertises the Broadway musical 'Cats.'Barbara Alper/Getty Images


This iconic Pink Panther float is more than 100 feet tall.

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Atmosphere during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1988 in New York, New York, United States.Ron Galella/Getty Images


This Days Inn float, designed to look like a cartoon dreamland, only ever appeared in the 1988 parade.

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Several children dressed as Christmas trees wave at the 69th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade November 23, 1995 in New York City.Evan Agostini/Getty Images


Roughly 8,000 people work together each year to put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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A giant Peter Rabbit balloon leans dangerously close to a light pole as volunteers strain against the ropes holding it down in the 71st annual Macy's Thanksgiving day parade 27 November in New YorkJON LEVY/Getty Images


Peter Rabbit debuted in the ’90s, along with the trend of watching workers inflate the balloons on New York’s Upper West Side the night before the parade.

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The "Big Bird" balloon makes it's way down New York's Central Park West at the start of the 72nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving day parade, November 26, 1998.Jeff Christensen/RETIRED/Getty Images


This 67-foot-tall Big Bird float has been a regular on the parade route since the ’70s. See how the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will look in 2021.

Lara Eucalano
Lara is a writer, editor and gardener who loves to cook almost as much as she loves to eat. She will absolutely hop on a plane in search of good food!