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Nine Decades of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, In Photos

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New York City's iconic holiday traditions span centuries. Take the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, a lit-up spectacle that dates back to 1931. As for the balloon- and float-filled extravaganza that is Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, its first iteration crawled the streets in 1924. Then, it was all about Christmas, promoting the department store's in-house Santa Claus, and featured real elephants. But as the years marched on, balloons were added, characters morphed, and the hoopla grew. Peruse these historic images for a sense of parades past.

↑ 1927: the Happy Dragon, the second parade balloon. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1929: a dachshund balloon released after the parade. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1931: a balloon breaks free near the Empire State Building. Photo via the NYPL.

↑ 1932: the parade near Columbus Circle. Photo via the NYPL.

↑ 1932: balloons near Columbus Circle. Photo via the NYPL.

↑ 1934: a balloon based on performer Eddie Cantor. This was the first balloon ever based on a real person. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1934: this Mickey Mouse balloon was the first ever created with the help of Walt Disney. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1940: a Santa balloon rounds the corner. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1940s: Happy Hippo balloon. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1940s: Uncle Sam. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1946: a pilgrim balloon. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1947: the Macy's elf. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1948: Harold the Fireman's first-ever appearance. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1949: Harold is back, and now he's a baseball player, embodying the national pastime. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1958: A Spaceman balloon, hung from a crane. Photo by Bettmann/CORBIS.

↑ 1961: Bullwinkle makes an appearance, and is captured in color, too. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1965: here comes Underdog! Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1966: It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's an old-school Superman. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1968: This is the first-ever Snoopy balloon—Flying Ace Snoopy, to be precise. Six Snoop-tastic iterations follow. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1977: It's Kermit. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1984: Raggedy Ann. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1985: Betty Boop. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1988: Pink Panther. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 1991: Spider-Man makes his first appearance. Photo via Macy's.

↑ 2002: Oh my, Kermit, how you've grown. Photo via Macy's.

· Historic Images [Macy's]
· Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade | A Photo Archive [42nd Black Watch]
· 82 Years of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, In Photos [Curbed]