Thanksgiving Day Parade
Issue Date: September 9, 2009
City: New York, NY
In the 1920s, many of Macy’s Department Store employees were first-generation immigrants. They wanted to give thanks for their new life in America with a traditional celebration from their European homeland – a parade.
They held the first Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in 1924. The pageant featured store employees dressed as clowns and cowboys, with bands and live animals. The procession ended, as it has ever since, with a float carrying Santa Claus into Herald Square, signaling the transition to the Christmas season. Over a quarter of a million smiling faces watched the parade its first year. It was hailed a success and declared an annual event.
The number of spectators increased each year and grew to one million by the Depression years. The parade was postponed during World War II. In 1945, the soldiers came home and people lined the streets again to see the first postwar parade.
The audience became national in 1948 when the parade was broadcast from coast to coast. People from around the country could watch the festivities.
The Thanksgiving Day Parade has become an American tradition. Today, 3 million people line the streets of Manhattan and another 44 million watch the pageantry on television.