A Holiday Tradition – Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Oh dear readers… it has been many, many weeks since Ms. Jeannie has been able to be in touch. She has missed all of you dearly. November found her busy with house guests and shop sales and holiday preparations. And although time is pressing and it seems like every moment is accounted for these days, Ms. Jeannie wanted to stop and say a big-hearted THANK YOU to all of you lovely readers. It is such a joy to be able to share these vintage adventures with all of you.  And she hopes for more exciting time travels in the New Year.

As we approach the big day, Ms. Jeannie is looking forward to one of her most favorite Thanksgiving family traditions – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Watching the parade is a highlight every year in the Ology household dating all the way back to when she was a little girl, in love with giant balloons and Broadway musicals.

Usually she watches it every year on TV, while she is cooking, but one year, when she was 8, her older brother and sister surprised her by taking her into the city to see the parade in person! The whole entire event was a treat!  The streets were so crowded, and Ms. Jeannie so little, that she wound up spending most of the time on her brother’s shoulders. Having a 6′ foot tall big brother does come in handy! But whether you are there watching the festivities in person, or home watching it on tv – the level of energy and excitement is felt either way (as least to Ms. Jeannie!).

In 2014, the parade will be celebrating it’s 90th anniversary! So she thought it would be fun to take a look back at some vintage parade footage…

Here’s the parade in 1954. Check out those vintage floats and the tree at Rockefeller Center!

We have this man to thank for the creation of the giant balloons that have floated down the parade route for over 85 years…

Anthony Frederick Sarg (1880-1942), puppeteer and illustrator

Anthony or “Tony” as he was known, moved from Germany to New York City to test out his puppetry skills on Manhattan streets.  Word got around that he was quite talented and Macy’s executives asked him to design a Christmas window display featuring his marionettes. That led to designing giant balloons for the parade. His first big balloon creation, Felix the Cat, debuted in the Thanksgiving Day parade in 1927.

Felix the Cat float, 1927. Photo courtesy of thephoenix.com

The address of Macy’s was sewn into the fabric of all the balloons and at the the end of the parade route they were let go from their tethers and left to float high above Manhattan.  A few days later they’d float back down from the sky, withered and exasperated, and a prresent was waiting for any person who found them and returned them back to Macy’s.  Can you imagine finding a giant Felix in your back yard?!

If you live in the New York area, you can go up to the streets surrounding the Museum of Natural History and watch the balloons being blown up the night before the parade. It is magical to see these flat pieces of billowy material take shape before your eyes. A bit of whimsy in the urban environment of hard lines and hard stone. Ms. Jeannie used to take her dates – it was very romantic and holiday-ish.

In this parade footage from 1935, you can see that it is quit tricky to maneuver the balloons. But no one seems to mind the minor faults and frailties of the procession. Even the street dogs are enjoying the spectacle!

Happy Happy Thanksgiving from Ms. Jeannie and the gang. We hope this is your most delicious and festive one yet!


One thought on “A Holiday Tradition – Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

  1. Yes, we have missed you! So glad to have you back blogging.
    I have never seen the Macy’s parade, either. What a thrill that must have been for you! Thanks for a bit of history lesson mixed in with some great memories.
    Happy Thanksgiving.


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