This photo, if the folks at Swapatorium are right and it was taken in 1932, shows Felix the Cat at the ninth annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Felix, the first of the Goodyear-designed oversized balloons that helped make the parade famous, had debuted in 1927. In early years, the balloons were released at the parade’s end and the lucky souls who found them deflated days later could bring them to the department store to exchange for a gift.
For more on the parade’s history, including more of the Swapatorium photos (which were discovered at an estate sale in Texas a couple years ago), check out the Bowery Boys’ Thanksgiving podcast from last year. A bevy of other links on the parade’s history (including sneak peaks at 2008 balloons) can be found here. Info and advice on viewing this year’s parade here.
The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation has several family programs planned for the weekend, some of which will be historically oriented.
For more T-day history flashbacks, check out this clip of the 1984 parade, featuring Tim Conway pimping Cabbage Patch Kids, which had stormed the holiday markets the previous year and would bring in something like $2,000,000 in ’84 alone. Warning: this clip may scare small children. Or their parents.
Final tidbit: Did you know New York was the first state to make Thanksgiving an annual holiday? Happened in 1817. Take that, New England! More on T-day general history via the History Channel.