More than 50 million viewers across the country, along with over 3.5 million spectators on the streets of NYC, will watch the 89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Although I’ve been watching the parade since I was a child, until recently I knew very little of its origin. I discovered that in the 1920s, many of Macy’s department store employees were first-generation immigrants. And being very proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with the type of festival their parents had loved in Europe. To this day, the only interruption to the parade was 1942-1944 when Macy’s gave their balloons to the war effort since rubber was a scarce resource.

What was the first giant balloon to make its appearance in the parade? Mickey Mouse, Bullwinkle, Superman? Nope. It was none other than Felix the Cat. In fact in 1928, Felix was actually filled with helium. With no plan in place to deflate the giant balloon, parade organizers decided to release it into the sky. Regrettably, Felix’s aviation journey was cut short when the giant balloon eventually popped. Thankfully for Felix, cats have nine lives!

Today, the parade is big business for advertisers and sponsors looking to target the demo that the Parade carries. Although not nearly on the same scale as the Super Bowl – though more Americans will tune in to the Parade than the Oscars – the Parade is often a stage (or a float) for companies to introduce advertisements. The total cost to put on the Parade? No one truly knows, as it’s a trade secret of Macy’s. Their philosophy is simple: “We see the parade as a gift to New York City and the nation. And when you give a gift, you take the price tag off.”

Over the years, parades, turkey and football are all things that have become synonymous with Thanksgiving. But given the recent horrific events in Paris, we hope the day offers you a chance to pause and remember all things that are truly most important.


Happy Thanksgiving, from Kurt and the Celtic team