Thanksgiving Throwback: 14 Iconic Photos of the Macy's Parade

The beloved 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 lbs. of rubber to the war effort during that time. Here, 14 iconic moments in its history for this Throwback Thanksgiving Thursday

01 of 14

1924: THE FIRST PARADE

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Courtesy Macy's

It featured no balloons (and was also called the Christmas Day Parade), though it did have elephants!

02 of 14

1927: FIRST CHARACTER BALLOON DEBUTS

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Courtesy Macy's

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

03 of 14

1934: MICKEY MOUSE DEBUTS

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Courtesy Macy's

Mickey's been redesigned four times, most recently in 2009.

04 of 14

1945: PARADE IS FIRST TELEVISED, ADOPTS ROUTE IT USES TODAY

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
NBCU Photo Bank

It was first broadcast nationally the next year.

05 of 14

1956: MIGHTY MOUSE DEFEATED, DEFLATED

The Mighty Mouse balloon deflating at Columbus Circle during
Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive/Getty

In 1956, Mighty Mouse failed to prevail against 45-mph winds and collapsed dramatically near Columbus Circle.

06 of 14

1961: BULLWINKLE BALLOON DEBUTS

Feeling puffed up as crowd watches, Bullwinkle floats along
Gordon Rynders/NY Daily News Archive/Getty

He was retired in 1983 and reintroduced in 1996, along with Rocky.

07 of 14

1968: SNOOPY DEBUTS IN THE FIRST OF HIS MANY COSTUMES

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/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 was yet another redesign.

08 of 14

1977: KERMIT!

New York, United States -
Francois LE DIASCORN/Gamma-Rapho/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.

09 of 14

1980: THIRD — AND LARGEST-EVER — SUPERMAN DEBUTS

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Superman had multiple incarnations throughout the parade's history, but his 1980 edition was the largest-ever float, at 104-ft. long.

10 of 14

1982: OLIVE OYL BREAKS BARRIERS

Olive Oyl Balloon in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City, New York
Visions of America/UIG/Getty

Olive Oyl (pictured here with Swee'Pea) became the first-ever female character balloon in the parade in 1982.

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1993: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG SPEEDS THROUGH

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
NBCU Photo Bank

Sonic became the first-ever video game character to get his own balloon in the parade in 1993.

12 of 14

1997: CAT IN THE HAT WREAKS HAVOC

The Cat In The Hat are the signature pieces of the Macy's Th
Evy Mages/NY Daily News Archive/Getty

Wind gusts caused the Cat in the Hat balloon to hit a street lamp, severely injuring a spectator.

13 of 14

2005: BLUE SKY GALLERY

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City
Stephen Chernin/Getty

The Blue Sky Gallery has turned 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.

14 of 14

2020: THE PARADE GOES CROWD-LESS

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade switched formats in 2020, cutting almost all of its participants, requiring masks for those who did march and eliminating spectators for safety, opting to keep floats and Broadway performers close to the company's flagship store instead of down the miles-long parade route.

"They're reinventing the event for this moment in history, and you'll be able to feel the spirit and the joy of that day on television, online," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Not a live parade but something that will really give us that warmth and that great feeling we have on Thanksgiving Day."

In 2021, the parade is resuming its normal format, with COVID-19 precautions in place.

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