A Look Back at Thanksgiving Day Parade Floats

A flying fish hovers over Central Park West, circa 1941. Image via Black Watch

For many, the last Thursday of November doesn’t feel right unless it’s spent indulging in borderline gluttony, watching a football game or two, and catching coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Since 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been an American institution, giving families everywhere the opportunity to sit back, relax, and revel in the spectacle of a larger-than-life inflatable Pillsbury Doughboy, or a Bart Simpson float bigger than the average residential home.

As it turns out, floats were just as over-the-top when the Macy’s tradition began. We’ve complied some of our favorite vintage Thanksgiving Day Parade floats for your viewing pleasure – scroll through to see how much things have (and haven’t) changed over the years!

Left: A gigantic crybaby surprises onlookers in Manhattan, circa 1934. Right: A larger-than-life float made to look like Eddie Cantor, a performer who did everything from Vaudeville to film and radio, parades down Broadway, circa 1934. Images via Black Watch.

Image via Black Watch

Images via Black Watch

Do you plan on watching tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Day parade?


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  1. Avatar
    Julianne (ModCloth) 11/24/2010 at 5:22 pm #

    Man, the style of these reminds me of the Musee Mechanique Arcade I went to the other weekend which was fantastic! If the modern day parade looked like this, I would actually watch it! 🙂

  2. Avatar
    Justine 11/24/2010 at 6:33 pm #

    I love the dinosaur one~!! Awesome photo post, I love archived images.

  3. Avatar
    AP 11/24/2010 at 7:15 pm #

    🙂 This is such a sweet post.
    I watch the Thanksgiving parade every year with my family. Excited for tomorrow!

  4. Avatar
    Hannah (ModCloth) 11/24/2010 at 9:00 pm #

    Way cool post, Annie!

  5. Avatar
    D 11/24/2010 at 11:59 pm #

    Off Topic: I cannot stand your new standard measurement system. Before, I knew what would work instantly and now I have no clue.

    I’m sorry to say I won’t be buying from Modcloth unless you change back to the individual measurement system.

  6. Avatar
    Desiree 11/26/2010 at 3:59 pm #

    I LOVE this, it’s always cute to see how borderline disturbing those balloons used to look haha!

  7. Avatar
    Michal 11/28/2010 at 12:09 am #

    This is such a great post! I was in NY this year visiting family so I got to go to the parade. It was really fun but I wish I could of seen those dino & fish floats! 😀

  8. Avatar
    Amanda 12/08/2010 at 4:21 pm #


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