12 Secrets of the Thanksgiving Day Parade

SECRET 1. The parade was originally called The Christmas Parade (which is why the last float has Santa waving to the crowds). It made its debut in 1924 as a way for Macy's to celebrate the expansion of its store which now covered an entire city block. The first participants were employees of the store. 

SECRET 2. In the beginning the parade included bears, camels, monkeys and elephants from the Central Park Zoo. The balloons were replacements for the original animals. 

SECRET 3. From 1928 to 1932, the handlers of the large balloons would end the parade by letting the balloons fly into the sky instead of deflating them. In the beginning they burst until they were redesigned letting them float for a couple of days. 

SECRET 4. Address labels were sewn in the balloons so that the people who found them could then mail them back and receive a gift from Macy's (some say it was a $100 reward). 

SECRET 5. The parade used to start at 145th Street and Convent Avenue. It would then go west on 110th Street to Broadway where it would then stay on Broadway until it reached 34th Street. 

SECRET 6. From its beginning to date there have been 174 different giant balloons. 

SECRET 7. There are about 230 dressers, 100 makeup artists and 4,000 volunteers who make the big event happen. 

SECRET 8. Because of the Thanksgiving Parade Macy's is the second largest consumer of helium in the country after the U.S. Government. 

SECRET 9. In 1941 after the U.S. entered World War II through its ending in 1945 the Thanksgiving Day parade was suspended. The helium that would have been used on the balloons was donated to the war effort instead producing 650 pounds of scrape rubber. 

SECRET 10. In 1988 Olive Oyl (Popeye) was the first female cartoon character featured as a balloon in the parade. 

SECRET 11. A balloon pilot is responsible for each balloon and must be able to walk the entire 2.5 mile route backward. 

SECRET 12. Felix the Cat was the first balloon. The newest additions for 2017 are Olaf from the Disney film "Frozen" and Chase from "Paw Patrol."