The first-ever Macy’s Day Parade actually took place on Christmas of 1924. Macy’s employees dressed as clowns, cowboys, and other fun costumes, and traveled with Central Park zoo animals and creative floats a lengthy six miles from Herald Square to Harlem in Manhattan. This was meant to draw attention to the Macy’s store in NYC and the gimmick worked. More than 250,000 attended the inaugural Macy’s Day Parade. It was decided that the NYC parade would become an annual NY even in Manhattan.
Giant helium balloons first appeared in the Parade in 1927, replacing the live animals that once participated in the Parade. The balloons were the original creation of Tony Sarg, a Macy’s designer and famous puppeteer. Felix the Cat, The Dragon, The Elephant and Toy Soldier were among the first balloons in the Parade. In 1927, the balloons were filled with air and held up with sticks. The first balloon was Felix the cat.
In 1928, helium was used to fill the balloons and hold them in the air. Felix was filled with helium and without a plan to deflate the massive balloon, NYC parade organizers simply let Felix fly off into the sky. Unfortunately, he popped soon after. From 1928-1933, the giant balloons were released at the end of the Parade and after the first year of releasing them, the balloons featured a return address label and prized for the return of the balloons. In 1958 with a helium shortage, the balloons were inflated with air and hoisted up with cranes for the Parade.
It takes between 30 and 100 balloon handlers to escort the Parade’s giant helium balloons along the Parade route. Part of the fun is watching these huge balloons being inflated the night before.
One of the prime viewing locations is at the Trump Towers. Check out our review here