This post may contain affiliate links and/or Amazon affiliate links; I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
Every year, the Macy’s Parade is seen by more than 3.5 million people who line the streets of New York and another 50 million people who tune into NBC for the show. Movie & television stars come out and the city glistens and comes alive with Christmas spirit. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marks the beginning of the Christmas season.
According to The History Channel, Macy’s wanted to showcase the opening of the “World’s Largest Store” and its 1 million square feet of retail space at the start of the busy holiday shopping season, they decided to throw New York a parade on Thanksgiving morning. In spite of its timing, the parade was not actually about Thanksgiving at all but the next major holiday, Christmas. Macy’s hoped it’s “Christmas Parade” would whet the appetites of consumers for a holiday shopping feast.
Random Parade Facts
- The first parade in 1924 was called the “Macy’s Christmas Day Parade” although it took place on Thanksgiving Day.
- The original parade route was from 145th Street in Harlem to 34th Street at Herald Square. Macy’s is located on 34th Street in Herald Square.
- The floats were pulled by horses. In the first parade, a white steed that was to aid in the Ben-Hur float disappeared at the last minute before the start of the parade.
- In 1927, Macy’s introduces the world famous giant helium balloons. The first balloons included Felix the Cat and Toy Soldier. Unfortunately, a Felix the Cat balloon got caught in some telephone wires and caught fire. The fire was put out, but Felix was removed from the parade.
- Santa Claus has ended the parade every year except 1933, the only year in which he led the parade.
- The parade was canceled in 1942, 1943, and 1944 due to World War II.
- Macy’s is the world’s second largest consumer of helium. The United States government is the first.
- In 2013, Westchester, Ohio’s very own Lakota West HS marching band performed in the parade.
Best Views for the Parade
If you are watching the parade anywhere along the route, you are likely to miss everything that happens in front of Macy’s. If you are lucky enough to get a seat or grandstand ticket (tickets aren’t available to the general public unless you are a VIP or willing to dole out a lot of cash by someone selling on eBay) you will not get to see much as there are so many people lining the streets. The higher up in Streets you go, the more space there is and closer you can get to the Parade. You will likely be cold and/or wet as it often rains on Thanksgiving Day.
If you LOVE crowds and MUST have the experience of the parade, then go. We recommend standing along Central Park West a few blocks south of the line-up on the west side of the avenue. Stay away from the area around Macy’s. It will get VERY crowded in those locations. In any case, start the adventure with an empty bladder, and get there by 6 a.m. But, ultimately, the best views of the parade, floats, balloons and the professional performers are at home on the couch in front of the TV.
If you are spending some time in New York, make sure to check out my post, What to Expect If You Want to Ring in the New Year in NYC.