Since its debut in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City has become synonymous with Thanksgiving and marks an unofficial start to the holiday season. Each year, more than 3.5 million people gather along the 4-kilometer route to cheer floats, celebrities, giant helium balloons and some of the country’s best marching bands. The festivities are carried live on national television, attracting approximately 50 million viewers.
The 2013 parade will feature balloons celebrating the 75th anniversary of the film The Wizard of Oz. It will also feature perennial favorites like Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse, who has been floating above the Manhattan spectators since 1934. Though Macy’s department store boasts the most famous parade, other businesses and cities have sponsored Thanksgiving Day parades, including the nation’s oldest in Philadelphia, formerly sponsored by Gimbel’s department store, and America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, started by the J.L. Hudson Company.