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9 Vintage Photos from the Macy’s Day Parade

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade has come a long way in terms of floats and performers, but it's always been a spectacle for those that wait on the streets of Manhattan to watch.

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade vintageUncredited/AP/Shutterstock

The biggest Thanksgiving Day parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade first started in 1924. Every year, it brings about 3.5 million people to Manhattan to watch the larger-than-life balloons pass overhead and various bands, singers, and actors perform on moving floats. Take a look at what some of the earlier parades looked like. It’s a pretty amazing show! Learn these mindblowing facts about the Macy’s Day Parade.

captain nemo macy's thanksgiving paradeUncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Captain Nemo

Fun fact, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was first called the Macy’s Christmas Parade. Here, a large float of Captain Nemo makes its way down the streets of Manhattan in 1929. To get ready for the big holiday, here are all of the answers to your Thanksgiving questions.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade vintageUncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Down Broadway

The first big floats debuted in the parade in 1927. These large balloon heads and characters stun those lined up down Broadway to watch in 1930. For laughs, share these funny Thanksgiving quotes around the dinner table.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade vintageUncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Dino float

In 1933, the parade had this fun dino float. Look at the crowds lining the streets! You’ll want to steal these meaningful Thanksgiving day traditions.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade vintageAnonymous/AP/Shutterstock

After the war

A teddy bear floats past a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Times Square in 1945 at the first parade since the festivities were suspended due to the war in 1941.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade vintageJohn Rooney/AP/Shutterstock

Fireman balloon

In 1948, thousands watch as this cartoon fireman balloon passes over their heads on Broadway. Even the balloon carriers wore fireman hats to match their float. These fun Thanksgiving crafts will keep your kids busy while you cook.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade vintageJohn Lindsay/AP/Shutterstock

Turkey trot

A big turkey float bounces between buildings on Broadway near 37th street in 1957.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade vintageJohn Lindsay/AP/Shutterstock


The Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes perform at every annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Here they are showing off their high kicks in 1958. Traveling to New York to see the parade is a perfect way to mix up your traditional Thanksgiving. Here are some other fun vacation ideas for the holiday.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade vintageUncredited/AP/Shutterstock


A giant Popeye balloon filled with helium floats above the crowd at the 33rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1959. An estimated 1.3 million people watched the parade that year.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade vintageAP/Shutterstock

Riding the floats

Comedian Jimmy Durante rides on top of a big elephant float waving at spectators of the parade. Share these funny Thanksgiving Butterball hotline calls this holiday.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.

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