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

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

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