Historic Photos from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving Day staples include home cooked meals, the food coma that seemingly follows, awkward, forced conversations with relatives and of course – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Whether you’re a kid or a grown adult, sipping on apple juice or wine, nothing is more entertaining and festive to watch than the parade. The enormous blow-up balloons, our favorite characters, the dance numbers, and decorated floats make the perfect lineup to watch while you avoid helping prep dinner.

The parade has become synonymous with Thanksgiving. Its origins date back to 1924 and this year is its 96th year of operations.

On this Thanksgiving, let’s take a look back at some archival, stand-out moments that shaped the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:

The 1940s

Superman soared over the metropolis of New York City on Nov. 20, 1940, during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. More than 1 million spectators crowded the sidewalks to greet the big guy.

The 1950s

Superhero mouse character, Mighty Mouse, made his Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in 1951.

The French fairytale and English nursery rhyme figure, Mother Goose, on top of a float in her 1958 debut.

The 1960s

B-Roll footage of the various floats, balloons, performers, and attendees at the 1964 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Sponsored by Walt Disney Animation Studios, The Jolly Polly Pirate Ship float, under the name “Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship,” debuted in 1969. In 1978, the Disney branding was stripped from the float and it appeared as a standard pirate ship float.

The 1970s

Children watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1972.

The 63-foot Underdog balloon follows a turkey float down Broadway in Manhattan during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1979.

The Snoopy balloon during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1970.

Diana Ross stands atop the Daily News’ Big Apple float during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1979.

The 1980s

During the 1987 parade, a Marvel Comics themed float debuted alongside the Spider Man balloon. The float included some of the most well-known Marvel heroes. It made two more appearances in the Thanksgiving Day Parade before it was retired after 1989.

Also in 1987, Dirty Dancing actor, Patrick Swayze, rode his own horse named “Shocker” in the parade. 

The 1990s

Take a look at the character balloons that were flown in the parade in 1990, from Clifford the Big Red Dog, to Big Bird, to Pink Panther and more!

Not everything was smooth sailing! Watch as the Cat in the Hat balloon gets caught in a lamp post due to strong winds and injures four people in 1997.

The 2000s

After winning American Idol in 2005, Carrie Underwood performed during the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Singing “Some Hearts” from her holiday album on the “Holiday Lovin’ Oven” float alongside the Pillsbury Doughboy.

The 2010s

Take an exclusive, behind the scenes look at the production side of putting together the 2018 Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The 2020s

Thanks to streaming services, you can rewatch previous years’ parades to get you into that holiday spirit. 2021 was a year of the Parade’s landmark celebration of its 95th year. Watch the full 2021 Thanksgiving Parade!

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