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Top Smile-Worthy Thanksgiving Day Parade Moments

By Sara Fossum on November 22, 2016 in Just for Kicks


The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a household tradition on Thanksgiving morning since 1924. And balloons are as much of a staple to the parade as turkey is to your Thanksgiving dinner. 

Here are our favorite Thanksgiving Day parade moments:

1. Felix the Cat - 1927

Macy’s first Thanksgiving Day parade looked a little different than it does today. Animals from the Central Park Zoo like elephants and tigers walked in the procession. Balloons didn’t make their parade debut until 1927, with Felix the Cat taking the lead. It’s commonly claimed that Felix the Cat was the first balloon to grace the Macy’s parade.

Did you know: After the parade, balloons were then released into the city. Macy then offered rewards to anyone who found and returned their giant character balloons, which were released to the sky after the parade until 1934! What a fun treasure hunt for Turkey Day!

2. Tom the Turkey - 1971

What's Thanksgiving without the turkey? In 1971, after nearly 50 years of parades, the season's favorite bird finally made its balloon debut. It’s been a beloved classic ever since.Tom the Turkey is a colorful, animatronic turkey with two pilgrims that ride atop him.

3. Olive Oyl - 1982

Popeye's longtime girlfriend broke parade ground by becoming the first female balloon character in 1982. What took so long?Popeye’s damsel-in-distress girlfriend Olive Oyl is one of 15 female Thanksgiving Day balloons.

4. Blue Sky Gallery - 2005

Art meets parade! In 2005, parade organizers introduced a series of balloons based on famous works of art. The program has since ended, but contemporary works from Jeff Koons, Keith Haring and others were honored in helium form.

The late artist Keith Haring’s 1987 ink on paper drawing was transformed into a parade balloon.

5. Live "Rickrolling" - 2008

Rick Astley made light of his viral fame by “Rickrolling” an entire Thanksgiving Day Parade. He interrupted Cartoon Network’s float based on the TV show “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” with his classic song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

6. Endurance Jumpers - 2013

240 jump-ropers from J.U.M.P (the Jumpers United for Macy's Parade) skipped rope for the entire two hours of the parade. AND they performed at the end! What a way to burn calories before Thanksgiving dinner!

7. Snoopy - 2015

Charles Schulz's lovable canine creation has made his entrance in more parades than any other balloon. In 2015, Snoopy completed his 40th parade appearance.We love the balloons featured in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

8. 90th Anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade - 2016

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had its 90th anniversary in 2016. If you’re a history buff, you’ll recall that the 90 parades were not consecutive. During WWII, the parade was put on hold from 1942-1944, when the rubber and helium used for making floats were in short supply.

Drummers march in festive costumes during the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

We love seeing all the big smiles that line the Thanksgiving Day Parade every year. Comment below and tell us your favorite Thanksgiving Day Parade memory that makes you smile!