7 things you may not know about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

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7 Things You May Not Know About the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade



The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is not just one of the most spectacular events in New York, but it's the most famous parade in the U.S.

In honor of this year's 89th annual parade, here are a few things you may not know about it:

1. Giving Thanks for... Christmas?
The first Macy's parade was not about Thanksgiving. It was actually a Christmas Parade, organized by the department store's employees in 1924. That same year, the Macy's store in Manhattan's Herald Square also expanded to become the "World's Largest Store."

2. Embracing the Animal Kingdom
Because it wasn't all about Turkey Day, the parade was also not all about turkeys. With 10,000 onlookers, the parade featured all kinds of animals from the Central Park Zoo. There were even elephants and bears, oh my!

3. Getting A Big Head
These days, the enormous novelty balloons of cartoons and other pop culture characters are a hallmark of the parade. But they were first introduced in 1927, and the first character balloon to hit the streets was Felix the Cat. Righty-o!

4. Life of the Party
While many celebs have made appearances at the parade and even hosted the event, actress Betty White is the unofficial Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade queen. She hosted the parade from 1962 to 1971.

5. Glued to the Screen
The parade was first televised locally in 1946 and nationally in 1947. Every year, over 3.5 million people crowd the streets of Manhattan to catch a glimpse of the spectacle, while a whopping 50 million television viewers tune in from home.

So whether you're hitting the streets of New York this November or watching the parade from home, now you know a little bit more about the time-honored event we call the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

See photos of the parade through the years:

17 PHOTOS
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Through the Years
See Gallery
7 things you may not know about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 01: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade- First Parade, 1926 (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
A not-too-ferocious dragon caught fancy of crowd at 1931 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
With a dopey clown and the kind of hippo you see only in a hangover, Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day parade trundles down Central Park West. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Oink Oink! This gigantic grunting porter doesn't look as though he need to be afraid of any bad wolf, no matter how big. He was one of the features of Macy's parade down Broadway. His 'oinks' were heard far and wide. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
A rooftop view of the 1946 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 22: One of characters Mighty Mouse in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade mugs for the crowd as he hogs the spotlight in Times Square. An estimated 400,000 watches the show. (Photo by Nick Petersen/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 22: Big bird Turkey 'Gorgeous Gobbler,' one of the balloon stars in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was moving along well. A million fans lined Our Town's streets to watch the fun. (Photo by Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 24: A clown whose 'head' is in danger of blowing away becomes big favorite with kiddies jamming street along Central Park West at Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. (Photo by George Torrie/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 27: Nicole Grauer's 50-yard-line seat for Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is on third floor of 1 Times Square. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Cross-eyed? Well, if you were as full of helium as Bullwinkle is... you would be also in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. (Photo by Mel Finkelstein/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
High-kicking young ladies during the Macy's Day Parade at Thanksgiving in New York City, 26th November 1961. A number of tableaux behind commemorate landmarks in the city's history. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 26: Clowns light up the faces of children watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on Central Park West. (Photo by Paul DeMaria/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE -- Pictured: The Rockettes perform during the 1966 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE -- Pictured: (l-r) Hosts Betty White and Lorne Greene during the 1968 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE -- Pictured: An overhead view of the 2000 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
A marching band followed by Arthur balloon during the 2000 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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