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

The Thanksgiving Turkey float in 2011

updated 11/28/2013 AT 8:45 AM ET

originally published 11/27/2013 AT 11:00 AM ET

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 Thanksgiving Turkey float in 2011

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

1927: First Character Balloon Debuts

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’s been redesigned four times, most recently in 2009.

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

It was first broadcast nationally the next year.

1956: Mighty Mouse Defeated and Deflated

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

1961: Bullwinkle Balloon Debuts

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

1968: Snoopy Debuts in His First of Many Costumes

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

1993: Sonic the Hedgehog Speeds Through

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

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

2005: Blue Sky Gallery

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.


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