Chapter 2 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
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In 1924, Macy’s welcomed the world’s largest department store with their first parade in New York City.
Although held on the morning of Thanksgiving, it was presented as a Christmas parade with floats featuring favorite nursery-rhyme characters, matching the theme of their window display that year.
Macy’s employees dressed up and marched alongside animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo, leading a giant Santa Claus for 6 miles from Harlem to the store at Herald Square.
The parade is now in its 90th year and has become something of an institution with more than 3.5 million New Yorkers lining the route annually. Enormous helium balloons debuted in 1927 to replace the zoo animals which, unsurprisingly, proved challenging to handle out in the city. These balloons have become a signature of the parade and each year a different character is revealed, from Superman to Donald Duck.
Further innovations have been introduced over time, including themed floats first appearing in 1971 and Broadway performances first debuting in 1980.
The Macy’s parade is a spectacle to be enjoyed by all, although there is clear focus on marketing to children, who take delight in the giant animals and familiar cartoon characters leading them (and, more importantly, their parents) through the city to Macy’s flagship store.
Now known as the ‘Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,’ the success of this event is demonstrated by making Thanksgiving and Macy’s synonymous for the people of New York and all those enjoying the show at home, as well.
Holiday Marketing Takeaway
Macy’s parade is nothing less than a spectacle. Creating a large and ostentatious holiday campaign is one sure way of reaching a wide audience and generating chatter around your brand.