Let's get something straight right away now. While, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade gets all the press - and I'm sure is a fine parade in it's own time and place - the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade was FIRST. It kicked off in 1920 with 50 employees from Gimbels. Ellis Gimble, one of the four brothers who founded Gimbels thought it would be a great marketing tool for his store. It wasn't until four years later that New York and Detroit copied Philadelphia's idea. Today there are parades in many large cites including Chicago and St. Louis to name two.
A lot of Macy's fame likely stems from its marquee role in "Miracle on 34th Street". The movie (released in 1947) about the defense of Santa Claus as a real person (which he absolutely is by the way) contains a subplot about the competition between Macy's and Gimbels.
For the first 66 years of it's existence the Philadelphia parade started at the Art Museum and travelled to Gimbel's at 8th and Market where a fire truck ladder allowed Santa to climb to the 8th floor to take his place in Toyland for the holiday season. Here he is in 1975 doing just that as the parade goers follow.
|It's unlikely you'd find Captain Kangaroo |
in the New York parade (1974)
|And if there are soft pretzels at the New York parade they |
are likely not Philadelphia Soft Pretzels
and therefore by definition - inferior (1975)
|These guys could be in either parade but this is definitely Philadelphia|
Notice Lit Brothers Store in the background.(1975)
A lot has changed over the years.
|The balloons have come a long way. I'm really not sure |
what this is from 1974
|From 50 Gimbels employees for the whole parade in 1924 to|
25 random fun loving strangers on just one balloon in 2012
Some things never change though -----
|Smiling faces of my family 1974|
|Smiling faces of a random family 2009|
|In 1975 the kids in my family (includes cousins here) were thrilled|
to have their very own helium balloons from a street vendor
|Kids still love to hold Helium Balloons! (2009)|
Traditions are awesome. I'm really glad Dave and I answered the call for balloon volunteers on Action News one September evening back in 2007. Look for us this year on the Olivia Balloon.
Credit for some of the Thanksgiving Day History goes to this article.