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MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE, NYC, 1960

Popeye Macy's Parade ballon

A giant skyward helium-filled Popeye balloon tethered with many strings and a small army of earthbound wranglers. Just part of an annual tradition of parading balloon sculptures down Broadway that began in 1927.

Popeye goes back almost that far. Originally he was introduced as Olive Oyl’s love interest in 1929 in the then ten-year-old comic Strip, “The Thimble Theater.” He quickly became the favorite character, stole the show and became a world famous super star. Among my earliest musical recollection is Popeye’s theme song– sing-a-long—“I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!” He has not only a memorable theme song, but in it he sings about his theme-vegetable, spinach, which he consumes frequently by the can.

Second only to the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the most famous parade. The tradition began in 1924 and was called the Macy’s Christmas Day parade – even though it was on Thanksgiving. The procession of floats and cages with live animals, borrowed from the Central Park Zoo, drew masses to kick off Macy’s holiday shopping season. Because the animals scared too many children, in 1927 Macy’s replaced the goats, elephants, donkeys, lions, tigers and bears with giant character balloons. Between 1928 and 1933, the inflated spectacles were let go to float away when they reached the end of the parade route. Macy’s then offered rewards for the balloons after they had deflated and fallen back to earth. In 1947, Miracle on 34th Street, introduced the parade to movie audiences worldwide and the very next year it was broadcast on television for the first time

Today the annual tradition continues. Not only can Macy’s claim to be the “world’s largest department store”, they can also claim to be the world’s second largest consumer of helium. The US Government is the first.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the parade!!