Mr. Monopoly on Broadway
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2002
In our home the holiday season officially begins with the viewing of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The giant balloons, marching bands, floats, singers, dancers and Santa Claus all signal that the holiday season has arrived.
Instead of watching the parade on television from Florida, we decided to make the trip to New York and visit with my brother David and other relatives on Long Island. We made plans to drive into Manhattan on the morning of Thanksgiving day and watch the parade from the sidewalks of New York.
With the temperature hovering in the 20's we bundled up, packed David's mini van and headed off on the Long Island Expressway to Manhattan. In the city we found a great spot at the corner of 53rd street and Broadway from which to watch the parade.
We purchased fresh bagels and pastries from a street vendor and waited patiently for the parade to begin. We weren't disappointed!
Down the Great White Way came Charlie Brown, Mister Monopoly, Kermit the Frog and Nickelodeon's Little Bill, the first black-character balloon ever to be in the parade. There were a thousand cheerleaders, 500 clowns, 25 floats, a dozen marching bands, ten novelty balloons, four toy floats and much more. Soon, Santa Claus and his reindeer appeared on Broadway and the 2002 holiday season officially started.
History of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The first parade was organized by the employees of New York's Macy's Department Store in 1924. There were no inflated balloons but it did include participants in colorful costumes, floats, bands, clowns and live animals from the Central Park Zoo.
The parade was an immediate success and quickly became an annual event. The first inflatable balloon, Felix the Cat, was introduced in 1927. Felix took the place of real lions. Helium balloons were introduced in 1928 and when the parade was over the balloons were released into the sky. Some burst just above the Manhattan skyscrapers. Design changes were made to the balloons the next year that allowed them to float for several days. Return addresses were attached to the balloons and when found and returned the people who found them received a reward.
The parade was interrupted during the 1940's war years and resumed in 1945. Interestingly, the rubber from the balloons were used for war materials because rubber was in short supply.
Through the 50's and 60's more balloons of favorite characters were introduced including Mickey Mouse, Uncle Sam, Superman, Popeye and others.
Today, almost 3 million people line the streets of Manhattan to watch the parade. It is televised live throughout the world.
FACTS ABOUT THE 2002 PARADE
2 million parade goers
14 giant balloons
4 new balloons
12 marching bands
New balloons for 2002 included Mr. Monopoly, Charlie Brown and Little Bill, the first African-American balloon character.