90 Years of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Photographs

Miss Muffett float in the first Macy's parade in 1924, when it was still known as the Macy's Christmas Parade.
Courtesy Macys
Happy Dragon—the second parade balloon in Macy's Parade—debuted in 1927.
Courtesy Macys
Floats make their way through the streets of Manhattan during the 1933 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
The first Mickey Mouse balloon, designed with the help of Walt Disney in the 1934 parade.
The first Mickey Mouse balloon, designed with the help of Walt Disney in the 1934 parade.
Courtesy Macys
Happy Hippo in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the 1940s.
Courtesy Macys
Onlookers view the Humpty Dumpty float in the 1958 parade.
Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Peanuts float in the 1960s.
Courtesy Macys
Flying Ace Snoopy balloon in the 1968 parade.
Courtesy Macys
N.Y. Mets Tug McGraw, Ron Taylor and Ron Swoboda ride in the 1969 parade after their World Series win against the Baltimore Orioles.
Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Rockettes perform in the cold during the 1976 parade.
Keith Torrie/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
A Sesame Street float follows the parade route in 1978.
Courtesy Macys
Cartoon character Underdog hovers over the crowd of the 1980 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Bettmann/Getty Images
The new Honey Nut Cheerios Bee balloon moves through Times Square in New York during 1999 Parade.
The Betty Boop balloon makes its way down the parade route during the 1995 parade.
JON LEVY/AFP/Getty Images
New York City Police Department officers carry two US flags, in memory of those killed during the September 11th terrorist attacks in the 2001 parade.
SpongeBob SquarePants, 2004's newest balloon, makes his way through Times Sqaure during the parade.
Rabbit by Jeff Koons, the second Blue Sky Gallery Series Balloon, in the 2007 Parade.
Courtesy Macys
Parade participants guide the famous turkey float at the 2008 parade in New York City.
Yana Paskova/Getty Images
The Elf on a Shelf balloon floats above the street during the 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Kena Betancur/Getty Images

The arrival of Thanksgiving not only marks a day of eating turkey, stuffing and pie, but also the return of the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For its 91st year, the 2017 parade will feature 17 giant character balloons, 28 legacy balloons, 26 floats and familiar performances by various marching bands, cheerleaders and celebrity guests.

Started in 1924 as the Macy’s Christmas Parade, the procession is a staple on the screens of American homes on Thanksgiving morning—a prelude to the equally iconic turkey eating and football watching. With more than 3.5 million spectators expected (and another 50 million watching from the comfort of home), the parade is one of New York City’s largest annual events.

Despite being around for nearly a century, Macy’s has kept parade-viewers on their toes with something new each year. Though some staples are brought back annually, floats and balloons are constantly added and changed, and 2017 will mark the debut of characters such as Olaf from Disney’s Frozen.

These images—stretching as far back as 1924—are a fun trip through the history of one the country’s favorite parades.

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