In the 1920s, many of Macy’s department store employees were first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate theUnited States parade of Thanksgiving with the type of festival their parents had loved in Europe. In 1924, the parade (originally known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade and later the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Christmas Parade) was staged by the store. Employees and professional entertainers marched from 145th Street in Harlem to Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes.There were floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that first parade, as has been the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. At this first parade, however, the Jolly Old Elf was enthroned on the Macy’s balcony at the 34th Street store entrance, where he was then “crowned” “King of the Kiddies.” With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was such a success that Macy’s declared it would become an annual event.
It’s not officially Christmas season in New York until Santa Claus comes down 34th street during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Enjoy some clips throughout the years from the parade below!