What the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has looked like since the first event in 1924

Macy's Day Parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.Reuters
  • The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade used to be called the Christmas Parade.

  • It's been a hallmark of the holiday season since then, featuring celebrities and character balloons.

  • This year's parade airs on Thursday, November 25 at 9 a.m. ET on NBC.

1920s: Elephants marched in the first parade in 1924, which was previously known as the Macy's Christmas Parade.

Elephants march in first the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924.
The first parade in 1924.Macy's

The elephants wore outfits that advertised the parade.

1930s: Walt Disney helped design the first Mickey Mouse balloon.

A Mickey Mouse balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1934.
Mickey Mouse.Macy's

The balloon handlers were also dressed as Mickey Mouse.

1940s: The parade was canceled from 1942 to 1944 due to rubber and helium shortages during World War II, but it was back on for the rest of the '40s.

An Uncle Sam float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in the 1940s
Uncle Sam in the '40s.Macy's

An Uncle Sam float graced the streets of New York City in the 1940s.

1950s: The Radio City Rockettes have been perfectly aligned since their first performance at the parade in 1957.

The Radio City Rockettes perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1958.
The Rockettes in 1957.AP

The Rockettes were founded in 1925.

1960s: Miss Teenage America 1961 Diane Lynn Cox rode a float in the parade.

Miss Teenage America at the macy's thanksgiving day parade in the 1950s.
Miss Teenage America 1961.Anthony Camerano/AP

She was accompanied by her "Prince Charming," actor Troy Donahue.

1970s: Kermit the Frog made his debut in 1977.

A Kermit the Frog balloon in the macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1977
Kermit the Frog in 1977.Macy's

The balloon handlers were also dressed as Kermit, with green outfits and yellow collars.

1980: The Sesame Street float followed a marching band.

A Sesame Street float in the macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1980
Sesame Street.Ken Howard/Getty Images

Sesame Street began airing in 1969.

1982: Woody Woodpecker flew high above Macy's.

A Woody Woodpecker balloon in the macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1982
Woody Woodpecker.Macy's

The Woody Woodpecker show aired between 1940 and 1972.

1984: Raggedy Ann waved to onlookers.

Raggedy Anne in the macy's thanskgiving day parade in 1984
Raggedy Anne in 1984.Macy's

Raggedy Ann was a character created by author and artist Johnny Gruelle in 1915.

1985: The Betty Boop balloon was 67 feet tall.

A Betty Boop balloon in the macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1985
Betty BoopMacy's

The ballon also held over 15,000 cubic feet of helium.

1986: Olive Oyl and Swee' Pea were preceded by a group of clowns.

Olive Oyl and Swee' Pea floats in the macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1986
Olive Oyl.AP

Olive Oyl and Swee' Pea were characters from "Popeye."

1988: The Pink Panther was on the case.

A Pink Panther float in the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1988
Pink Panther.Macy's

An elephant-shaped float with a Macy's logo preceded the Pink Panther balloon in the parade.

1989: An estimated 1.8 million people attended the chilly parade.

A Ronald McDonald balloon in the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1989
Ronald McDonald.Tim Clary/AP

A Ronald McDonald-shaped balloon carried balloons of its own.

1990: Clifford the Big Red Dog lived up to his name.

A Clifford the big red dog float at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1990
Clifford the Big Red Dog in 1990.Macy's

The first "Clifford" story was published in 1963 by Norman Bridwell.

1991: Spider-Man made his first appearance at the parade.

A Spider-Man balloon at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1991
Spider-Man.Macy's

It was fitting for a Spider-Man balloon to fly over New York City, just as the character does in the comics and movies.

1992: Bart Simpson cruised through town on his skateboard.

A Bart Simpson balloon in the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1992
Bart Simpson in 1992.AP

"The Simpsons" remains the longest-running scripted sitcom in television history.

1993: Members of "America Sings," a performing arts nonprofit organization for young amateur singers, belted out American classics.

An American flag at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1993
"America Sings."Stringer/Getty Images

The singers wore red sweaters with white scarves as they waved American flags.

1994: The Cat in the Hat premiered as a new balloon in Times Square.

The Cat in the Hat float at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1994
The Cat in the Hat.Stringer/Reuters

A billboard for the Tony Award-winning musical "Kiss of the Spider Woman" can be seen in the background.

1995: "Beethoven" was big. Like, really big.

A Beethoven float at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1995.
Beethoven.Jeff Christensen/Reuters

There are eight "Beethoven" movies in total.

1996: Betty Boop reappeared.

A Betty Boop balloon at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 1996
Betty Boop.Jeff Christensen/Reuters

This time, she was sitting on a crescent moon.

1997: Winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour caused many of the 17 balloons in the parade to rip and deflate.

A Pink Panther. balloon falls to the ground at the 1997 Macy's thanksgiving day parade.
Pink Panther in 1997.Jeff Christensen/Reuters

One of the balloons blew into a lamppost, knocking it into the crowd and injuring two people, The New York Times reported in 1997.

1998: "Rugrats" were all the rage.

Rugrats balloons in the 1998 Macy's thanksgiving day parade
"Rugrats" in 1998.AP

"Rugrats" characters Chuckie and Tommy rode their dog Spike in the 1998 parade.

1999: Before "Googling" became a verb, internet search engine Ask Jeeves was the way to go.

An Ask Jeeves float in the 1999 Macy's thanksgiving day parade
Ask Jeeves accompanied by Miss America in 1999.Jeff Christensen/Reuters

The Ask Jeeves float was accompanied by Miss America winner Heather French.

2001: The trauma of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center was still raw.

Firefighters in Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 2001.
The parade post-9/11.Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Members of the New York City fire department carried an American flag.

2002: Justin Guarini, the runner-up of season one of "American Idol," crooned a Christmas song.

Justin Guarini of American Idol sings at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade in 2002
Justin Guarini of "American Idol" in 2002.Matthew Peyton/Getty Images

Guarini came in second to Kelly Clarkson on the show's first season.

2003: Simple Plan rocked out on the M&M float.

macy's thanksgiving day parade 2003
Simple Plan in 2003.Matthew Peyton/Getty Images

Simple Plan released the singles "Addicted" and "Perfect" in 2003.

2004: A news ticker shared stories about "Desperate Housewives" and the war in Iraq.

Performers on stilts and unicycles at Macy's thanksgiving day parade 2004
Performers at the 2004 parade.Mario Tama/Getty Images

Performers followed the parade route on stilts and unicycles.

2005: The New York City Cheerleaders waved their pom-poms at the crowds.

The New York City Cheerleaders at the 2005 Macy's thanksgiving day parade
The New York City Cheerleaders in 2005.Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

A billboard for the Broadway musical "Chicago" can be seen in the background.

2006: It rained on this parade. Poor Big Bird.

The Big Bird balloon sinks to the ground at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade 2006
The parade continued as usual despite the rain.Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

The Big Bird balloon sank to the ground due to inclement weather.

2007: Shrek floated above the city in all of his glory.

A Shrek float in the Macy's thanksgiving day parade 2007
Shrek in 2007.Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images

The third "Shrek" movie came out in 2007.

2008: Miley Cyrus was at the height of her Disney stardom.

macy's thanksgiving day parade 2008
Miley Cyrus in 2008.Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Cyrus appeared on a float for the 2008 animated Disney movie "Bolt."

2009: Keke Palmer blew a kiss to adoring fans.

Keke Palmer at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade 2009
Keke Palmer in 2009.Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Palmer sang her song "Top of the World" on a Build-A-Bear float.

2010: Miranda Cosgrove rode with the Minions from "Despicable Me."

Miranda Cosgrove at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade 2010
Miranda Cosgrove in 2010.Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Cosgrove rode on a float with a model of the Statue of Liberty.

2011: Members of the NYPD marched through Times Square.

NYPD officers march in the Macy's thanksgiving day parade 2011
NYPD officers in 2011.Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Spider-Man followed closely in the background.

2012: US Olympic gymnasts Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, and Gabby Douglas of the "Fierce Five" sported their gold medals from the London Olympics.

The Fierce Five at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade 2012
The Fierce Five in 2012.Desiree Navarro/Getty Images

A combined effort from Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber led Team USA to gold in the team all-around for the first time in more than a decade.

2013: Despite the cold and concerns about the wind, the parade continued as planned.

Performers huddle for warmth at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade 2013
It was a cold November.Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Despite the weather, the New York Daily News reported that 3.5 million people attended the event.

2014: Spider-Man flew past Macy's.

A Spider-Man balloon at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade
Spider-Man in 2014.Brad Barket/Getty Images

In "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (2014), the titular character was played by Andrew Garfield.

2015: A record number of police officers patrolled the parade in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris.

A Pikachu balloon at the Macy's thanksgiving day parade.
Pikachu floats through midtown in 2015.Kena Betancur/Getty Images

For the first time, the parade featured 200 officers from the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau's Critical Response Command, The New York Times reported.

2016: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrated 90 years.

A marching band at Macy's thanksgiving day parade
A marching band assembles in the parade in 2016.Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Marching band drums marked the parade's 90th year.

2017: The red Power Ranger balloon flew down the streets of New York.

A red power ranger balloon at the macy's thanksgiving day parade
Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Ranger balloon in 2017.Noam Galai/Getty Images for Saban Brands

The balloon handlers wore matching red outfits.

2018: SpongeBob Squarepants flew down the street sporting a Santa hat.

spongebob macy's thanksgiving
SpongeBob Squarepants in 2018.Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Perhaps Spongebob was paying tribute to the original "Christmas Parade."

2019: Balloons are being inflated and prepped at MetLife Stadium on November 2nd, gearing up for the big day.

An Olaf balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2019.
Olaf in 2019.Ralph Bavaro/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The second "Frozen" movie came out in 2019.

2020: Santa and his elves wore face masks to the parade to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Santa wears a mask at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Santa Claus in 2020.Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy's Inc.

There were no live crowds at the event due to the pandemic.

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