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Thanksgiving Throwback: 13 Iconic Photos of the Macy's Parade

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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an iconic New York – and American – institution. But this year, there were rumors that it may be the first time the parade’s signature balloons were grounded since 1971, thanks to forecasted high winds. (After incidents in 1997 and 2005, the city mandates that balloons have to be lowered or grounded if winds exceed 34 miles per hour.)

The parade has gone on every year since 1924, except from 1942-1944, when it was suspended due to helium and rubber shortages related to World War II – Macy’s donated 650 pounds of rubber to the war effort during that time. We’re excited for the parade, so we’re looking at 13 iconic moments in its history for this Throwback Thanksgiving Thursday. (Say that three times fast.)

1924: First-Ever Macy’s Parade

The first-ever Macy’s Day Parade, 1924
Courtesy Macy's
It featured no balloons (and was also called the Christmas Day Parade), though it did have elephants!

1927: First Character Balloon Debuts

Felix the Cat balloon, 1927
Courtesy Macy's
It’s Felix the Cat! He hit some telephone wires and caught fire, which necessitated his removal from the parade.


1934: Mickey Mouse Debuts

Mickey Mouse Balloon, 1934
Courtesy Macy's
Mickey’s been redesigned four times, most recently in 2009.

1945: Parade Is First Televised, Adopts Route It Still Uses Today

An NBC TV crew filming the 1945 Parade
NBCU/Getty
It was first broadcast nationally the next year.

1956: Mighty Mouse Defeated and Deflated

The Mighty Mouse balloon deflating in 1956
Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News/Getty
In 1956, Mighty Mouse failed to prevail against 45-mph winds and collapsed dramatically near Columbus Circle.

1961: Bullwinkle Balloon Debuts

Bullwinkle balloon, 1962
Gordon Rynders/NY Daily News Archive/Getty
He was retired in 1983 and reintroduced in 1996, along with Rocky.

1968: Snoopy Debuts in His First of Many Costumes

Snoopy balloon, 1970
NBC/Getty
Snoopy debuted as an aviator. From 1969 to 1977, he was an astronaut. In 1987, he was an ice skater, a costume he kept until 1994. In 2000, he was given a crown for the millennium, and from 2006 to 2011, he was the Flying Ace. The 2013 Snoopy is yet another redesign. This is all fine, because Snoopy is the best.

1977: Kermit!

Kermit the Frog balloon
Getty
Kermit debuted in 1977, and two years later, became the first balloon to travel outside of the U.S. when he headed to England to help celebrate the International Year of the Child.

1980: Third – and Largest-Ever – Superman Debuts

Superman balloon, 1981
NBC/Getty
Superman had multiple incarnations throughout the parade’s history, but his 1980 edition was the largest-ever float, at 104 feet long.

1982: Olive Oyl Breaks Barriers

Olive Oyl balloon, 1986
Visions of America/UIG/Getty
Olive Oyl (pictured here with Swee’Pea) became the first-ever female character balloon in the parade in 1982.

1993: Sonic the Hedgehog Speeds Through

Sonic the Hedgehog balloon, 1996
NBCU/Getty
Sonic became the first-ever video game character to get his own balloon in the parade in 1993.

1997: Cat in the Hat Wreaks Havoc

Cat in the Hat balloon, 1997
Evy Mages/NY Daily News/Getty
Wind gusts caused the Cat in the Hat balloon to hit a street lamp, severely injuring a spectator.

2005: Blue Sky Gallery

Humpty Dumpty balloon, 2005
Stephen Chernin/Getty
The Blue Sky Gallery turns the works of contemporary artists into floats and debuted at the parade with Tom Otterness’s “Humpty Dumpty.” Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, and Tim Burton have all been featured as well.