Originally known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade, Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1924 was the beginning of an annual tradition. In an effort to boost holiday sales and highlight Macy’s new store, employees organized the parade and animals from the Central Park Zoo were featured.1
Balloons were introduced in 1927 with Felix the Cat having the honor of being the first parade balloon. With no way to deflate the balloons after the parade, they were released into the air where they popped as they ascended. The following year valves were put in the balloons that allowed the helium to escape slowly when they were released at the end of the parade. A return address was provided and a reward was offered in hopes that the balloons would be returned. Not all balloons made it back, one landed in the East River and another drifted out to sea. In 1932 one stray balloon wrapped itself around an airplane’s wing sending it into a tailspin. No balloons were released from that point on.2
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