The first Macy’s Parade was held in New York to bring attention to the Macy’s store. It was labeled the Macy’s Christmas Parade to bring attention to Macy’s and inspire the public into Christmas shopping. The gimmick worked as 250,000 people attended the parade and it was decided the parade would be an annual event. The parade was eventually moved to Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas shopping season.
The first giant balloon was Felix the Cat in 1927. Without a plan to deflate the balloon, it was just released into the air and eventually just popped. In later years, Macy’s would mark the balloons with a return address and whoever found the balloons would return them and get a prize from Macy’s.
This practice was stopped in 1932 when an escaping balloon wrapped itself around the wing of a passing plane, sending it into a tailspin.
The Snoopy balloon holds the record with the most appearances. Santa Claus ended the parade every year except 1933. In that year, Santa LED the parade.